Archive for Toby Jones

Review: Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Posted in Film with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 29, 2014 by Tom Austin-Morgan

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The Marvel machine continues on its march towards the second Avengers film by revisiting The First Avenger; Captain America.

We pick up with Captain Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) years after the events of Avengers Assemble where he is fully integrated into S.H.I.E.L.D. but is beginning to have some doubts about working with such a paranoid organisation and longs to be back in the army following orders rather than keeping secrets or having secrets kept from him. Deep down, though, he knows that there’s nothing else he can do and that he is needed. However, that feeling isn’t necessarily share with some of the top brass in S.H.I.E.L.D.

More screen time is given to Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury, the director of S.H.I.E.L.D. who, until now, has cropped up here and there to give guidance to superheroes having a crisis of faith. He has been the orchestrator, but we haven’t seen him in arse-kicking action. Until now A plot has been hatched for his assassination during which his car is attacked and we see how Fury reacts when put under pressure, aided by S.H.I.E.L.D.’s technology.

During this scene the Winter Soldier makes his first appearance, a masked man with a metal arm and a proficiency with firearms. He also proves to be quite the match for The Cap too, he’s also super humanly strong with an arm that is even stronger. But the biggest revelation comes later when The Winter Soldier’s mask is knocked off. and throws Cap into a deeper moral quandary.

The Black Widow, Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johnansson), has more screen time than in previous Marvel movies to date. But in a less arse-kicking way. We see a more emotionally compromised Romanoff who has found out the organisation responsible for her second chance at life have been lying to her all along and something wicked has been growing for a long time within its structure.

In fact, Captain American: The Winter Soldier is as much of a political spy thriller as a comic book movie can be. There are some great action set pieces but quite a bit of the film features Rogers and Romanoff de-costumed, in the same way The Dark Knight Rises and Iron Man 3 have done recently with their protagonists. The pair are on the run as Robert Redford’s Alexander Pierce, the head of S.H.I.E.L.D., has put a bounty out on them. This is a film about spying and counter-spying with a comic book twist.

There are so many special appearances in this film from big names like Redford and Jenny Agutter to bit-players from the previous films including Cobie Smulders as Agent Hill, who had a really small part, Maximiliano Hernández as Agent Sitwell, Gary Shandling, the corrupt senator from Iron Man 2 and many more including Toby Jones as the disembodied Arnim Zola. A couple of notable newcomers include Emily VanCamp, who looks to be set up to be a major player in future films and Anthony Mackie who starts off as an ex-soldier who befriends Steve Rogers, but ends up being a new hero in the same vein as Hawkeye, called Falcon. He is the standout character in the film and needed more screen time than he was given.

This is the strongest of the phase 2 Marvel films so far and any completest will be more than happy with it and there are more than enough easter egg moments to keep you looking deeply into the background as well as on the story. However, if you’re a newcomer to the franchise there may be a little too much going on that you need to understand first in order to understand all that’s going on. The obligatory mid and post-credit scenes set up a few new characters for the upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron film coming out next year. Roll on 2015, the verdict is still well and truly out on the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy. You’ll read it here first… I’m sure!

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Review: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Posted in Film with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 26, 2013 by Tom Austin-Morgan

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The second of, what will be, four films in the Hunger Games trilogy (quadrilogy?) came out this week amid frenzied anticipation. The first film set up the history behind The Hunger Games and the utter devastation it causes among the population of Panem, especially the outlying, poorer Districts like District 12, where our heroine, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Laurence), is from.

The story in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire picks up under a year since Katniss and Peeta Mellark managed to cheat the odds and both win the Games. Since then they have been living in the Victor’s Village, in mansions – separate ones – on the outskirts of… wherever it is in District 12 they came from – this is the first time I’ve thought about the fact that each District only seems to have one small settlement! The problem is that the relationship they displayed on camera and which won the hearts of the Capitol’s population was just that; a display. The reality is that Katniss’ affections lie with her friend, Gale (Liam Hemsworth).

President Snow (Donald Sutherland) visits Katniss just before she and Peeta are to go on a victory tour of the Districts, he demonstrates his knowledge of her deceit and her true feelings for Gale. With all the understated malevolence and actor like Sutherland can muster he tells Katniss she must convince the country that her relationship with Peeta is true. He then lets her in on the fact that she has become a symbol of a resistance that has started to rise in the Districts after her trick with the poison berries, effectively showing the president’s regime as weak.

Things on the tour don’t go completely as planned and a new Gamesmaker, Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman) colludes with President Snow to devise a new Games that would surely put an end to Katniss and quash the fledgling rebellion. His plan is to put one male and female victor from each of the Districts into the games to fight to the death and, as Katniss is the only female victor from District 12, she would have to be entered.

As you can tell from this huge set up, there is a lot of hunger before you get to the games. This is a long film, clocking in at just under two and a half hours, and the majority of the plot takes place before the games. This is much like the book and actually give you a wider understanding of the political and social make up of the country you only saw brief glimpses of in the first film.

This also gives the supporting cast a chance to shine. We all know Jennifer Lawrence can act, but Donald Sutherland gets to be overbearing and scary, Philip Seymour Hoffman gets to be slimy, Woody Harrelson gets to be hilarious as the permanently plastered mentor to Katniss and Peeta,  Haymitch and Elizabeth Banks’ character, Effie Trinket gets to evolve from the distant social-climbing Capitalist into a person realising the horror the Capital puts the Districts through in order to control them.

The minor characters are also back; Lenny Kravitz as the costume designer, Cinna, provides Katniss with a grounded character from the Capitol she can trust, Stanley Tucci’s maniacal game show host, Caesar Flickerman, is even more of a caricature of modern-day TV presenters, even Toby Jones returns as Flickerman’s co-host, even if he is reduced to a single-lined blink-and-you’ll-miss-it performance. There are also the past victors, the most prominent of these being Finick, Mags, Johanna Beetee and Wiress, played with various levels of sympathy and mistrust.

There’s a great set-up to the games arena this time round, which I won’t spoil. I had a fear that a specific aspect to it wouldn’t work, but was put at ease by the handling of it. In fact, the whole story stays very close to the source material, which is a nice surprise. However, I do feel that parts could have been cut out to save on time.

This is not the action packed thrill ride the first film was. Even the fact the contestants in the games this time round are older, in some cases middle-aged, the shock value of the violence isn’t as bad. But this is made up for by the widening of the world and the progression of the characters in it. I would also argue that the theme is just as dark, if not more so, thanks to the tone coming from the events set in motion by president Snow right from the beginning of the film onwards. A nice twist at the end of the film sets up the next movie perfectly, just as the book did, and as with all book-to-film adaptations of late, the final (most tricky) book will be split across two films. *Sigh*

With acting as brilliant as that on display here the slower pace of the plot is easily forgiven and further cements Lawrence’s credentials as a grade-A leading lady who can do everything from violent action to tender understatement. This is a perfect central film that gives a lull in a series that is about to go all-out, off the chain crazy! Roll on The Mockingjay.

Review: Hitchcock

Posted in Film with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 18, 2013 by Tom Austin-Morgan

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Alfred Hitchcock is an iconic figure in suspense cinema, producing a huge body of work throughout his career including Psycho, The Birds and Vertigo to name but three. The end of last year saw two films produced about the man and this was the only one to make it to the big screen (the other being The Girl, starring Toby Jones which was shown on TV in the UK at Christmas – a jolly watch!).

Hitchcock stars Anthony Hopkins as the eponymous auteur in this film dressed in a seamless fat suit and prosthetics, you almost don’t recognise him. Especially with the Hitch’s distinctive accent, which if you listen to both Hopkins and Jones delivering lines with your eyes shut you’d think it was the same actor.

Where The Girl was based on a book by Donald Spoto called Spellbound by Beauty: Alfred Hitchcock and His Leading Ladies which featured interviews with various actresses who worked for him as well as crew members. It focuses on the making of The Birds and Marnie with actress Tippi Hedren (played, surprising well by Sienna Miller) an Hitchcock’s obsession with the fledgling actress. It came across as a bit of a character-assasination, but the best biopics show the dark side of their subjects as well as the genius.

Hitchcock, on the other hand, plays down the fantasising and obsession with blondes. It’s still there, there is a scene taken from Psycho itself where he spies on one of his actresses (Jessica Beil) from  a hole in the wall behind a picture while she de-robes in her dressing room. There is also the bullying he subjected his actors to while filming. But by the end of the film this kind of thing is played as cute; he puts the corpse of Mrs Bates in Janet Jeigh’s (Scarlett Johansson) dressing room after the final take to scare her and the whole crew is in on it. A far cry from Jones’ Hitch who was a threatening and malevolent presence on set and off it.

But, Hitchcock is more about the toll that self-funding the film took on his marriage to Alma (Helen Mirren – minus a fat suit). It gives more screen time to the long-suffering wife, who really seems to be the power behind her husband’s genius.

The film has great performances from its stars and is so enjoyable you could easily watch more, though I do think it suffers a little from not having quite as gritty an edge as The Girl. Though it does try, with the strange cut aways to the apparition of serial killer, Ed Gein (Michael Wincott), talking Hitch through his murders and inspiring the  Norman Bates character. The beginning of the film has one of these moments that sets up the film nicely, but the rest scattered haphazardly throughout tend to distract you from the plot, which is a shame. It also used way too many side on shots of Hopkins in the iconic silhouette pose as is to say “look at how much like Alfred Hitchcock we’ve managed to make Anthony Hopkins look!”

Overall Hitchcock is a good biopic which just falls short of being great. As such this begs the question as to why The Girl never made it into cinemas. In my opinion, it is the stronger of the two, even if just by a bit. Interestingly, the two would work very well as a double bill as Hitchcock ends with the idea for The Birds and The Girl takes up the story from there. An interesting idea, that.

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Spot  the difference time!

Review: Snow White & The Huntsman

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 8, 2012 by Tom Austin-Morgan

This year’s second adaptation of the Snow White fairy tale hit the cinemas this week and, rather than the camp Julia Roberts led Mirror, MirrorSnow White & The Huntsman is a darker take on the classic tale. If you’re expecting bright colours and sing-alongs with a cute girl and her seven small friends you’re in for a shock. This in no way resembles the 1937 Disney version.

Well, actually the story is fairly close, in that Snow White is the object of jealousy by the evil queen and there are seven dwarfs, though instead of names like Doc, Sneezy and Grumpy they have names like Duir, Muir and Gort. There are all the metaphors of lost innocence (forbidden/poisoned apples) as well as the moral message that jealousy is ugly and all-consuming. This retelling is a much darker and fantastical version than any we’ve seen before.

We are shown the story of a king and queen who have a daughter called Snow White and we are told of the queen’s passing and the consequent remarriage of the king to a woman he rescued from a magical army. His new queen, Ravenna (Charlize Theron), murders him on their wedding night and takes over the kingdom and swiftly imprisons Snow White. Over many years the kingdom falls into ruin, even  nature kills itself, rather than live under Ravenna’s rule.

Many years later Ravenna is running out of young women to suck the life out of to keep herself young and powerful that she consults with her magic mirror once more. The mirror is one of the most visually impressive things in the film as it cascades from the wall to form a molten-gold human shape in front of the queen with the deepest baritone since Darth Vader. It tells her that the way to break the aging spell she has been put under is to cut out the heart of Snow White (now played by Kristen Stewart).

Ravenna sends her servant of a brother, Finn (Sam Spruell), to bring Snow White to her, but she is ready for him and slashes his face with a nail she pulled from the wall. She escapes the castle and is pursued into a malevolent enchanted forest full of plants that shoot hallucinogens into the air and trees that grab at her as she stumbles deeper, away from Finn and his men. When Finn returns empty-handed he is ordered to find someone who knows the woods to go and capture her. Cue Chris Hemsworth as The Huntsman.

The Huntsman goes after Snow White and return for Ravenna promises to bring his wife back from the dead, though Finn lets it slip that she can’t just as they find the young princess.  On this news The Huntsman decides to spare the girl, he kills the guards and leaves Finn in a huge cloud of hallucinogenic spores. Finally, after all that exposition, we get to Snow White and The Huntsman forming a begrudging alliance over a lot of walking and mild peril.

What I will say about this film, if you haven’t already worked it out, is that it’s a bit long-winded. But once you get past this first half hour or so and things can slow down a bit there is a pay off; the dwarves appear from the undergrowth and provide some much-needed comic relief, though it does feel slightly out of keeping with the tone of the film at times. For example, Ray Winstone’s character manages to slip in two or three jokes about poo, which seems a bit childish for such a po-faced script. Nevertheless, I could have watched a film about the dwarves for a couple of hours and not been bored. The effects used to miniaturise actors like Winstone, Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, Nick Frost, Danny Marsden, Toby Jones et al is amazing, even though you’ve seen it done in Lord Of The Rings, the effects here just look better.

The special effects and design department are really what make this film, when the dwarves lead Snow White and The Huntsman into The Fairy’s Sanctuary which, compared to the rest of the dead world outside is vivid and full of life. It is also just about the most beautiful environment I’ve seen on film since Pandora in Avatar. The effects used in Ravenna’s transformations from old to young and her ability to turn into a flock of crows as well as the design for the troll that actually is part of the bridge are also breathtakingly good.

But all this visual spectacle can’t quite make up for the flaws on show here.For a start, Chris Hemsworth’s Scottish accent isn’t the best, but at least it doesn’t wander across the globe like Russell Crowe’s accent in Robin Hood! He also outshines the proper love interest,  the rather wet William (Sam Claflin), and as such steals the show from him (and the eye of Kristen Stewart at times too). His role as narrator never is never picked up again at the end of the film to tie up the narrative, which poses the question, why bother having a narrator in the first place?

Charlize Theron overacts as if her life depended on it, screaming for dramatic effect, but just coming across as brattish as opposed to scary. In contrast I didn’t believe in the strength, both physically and in character of Snow White. She is supposed to encourage the respect and devotion of a nation, but she just seems a bit desperate and whine-y…but the what do you expect when you cast the pouty girl from the Twilight films? And, as for being the fairest of the all? Give me a break!

In the end, this film turned out to be a mish mash of other films: Alice In Wonderland, Lord Of The Rings, Robin Hood, Gladiator to name but a few. The thing is, that all those films are great in their own right, but when put together in the way they are in this film it all adds up to an unforgettable cinematic experience, with only touches of brilliance (the Sanctuary scene and perhaps Charlize Theron emerging from a bath of a thick milky substance!) and no real stand out performances.

I’d rather watch Thor and the Dwarves for two hours.

Review: The Adventures Of Tintin: The Secret Of The Unicorn

Posted in Film with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 6, 2011 by Tom Austin-Morgan

Without doubt one of the strongest directorial and screen-writing forces of all time have collaborated to produce the first successful translation from page to screen of this intrepid Belgian journalist and his out-of-this-world adventures to get to the bottom of a story.

As a lifelong Tintin fan I have been eagerly awaiting this film ever since I first heard of its conception; added to this, it is directed by Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson who have been responsible for some of the most visually creative and exciting films of the last 40 years. Then the news that it was being written by a crack team of comedy writers from the UK – Steven Moffat, Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish – meant that I was champing at the bit to get to the cinema as soon as it came out.

But, a sense of dread fell over me when I found out that I could only see it in 3D at my local cinema as all the 2D showings were during the day. So it was with trepidation that I took my seat with my stupid-looking glasses on and got ready to have my eyes strained and suffer a headache halfway through making the rest of the film complete torture to sit through. I was pleasantly surprised.

This now sits up with ‘Avatar’ as one of the best 3D films I’ve seen; after the disappointment of ‘Toy Story 3’ and its needless 3D this film was a visual masterpiece. Though with Jackson as the second unit director what would you expect? The opening credits scene was a brilliant montage of Tintin’s adventures incorporating many iconic aspects from the original comics. The attention to detail is astounding with characters looking both very real and true to Hergé’s cartoons and the backgrounds could well be real locations they are so intricately rendered.

The story itself is quite confusing as there are strands from about three books interwoven into one film. One of which, the pickpocket strand, doesn’t really need to be there, though is quite amusing and predominantly features the bumbling detectives Thompson and Thomson. The main part of the plot involves Tintin being sucked into a mystery surrounding a model boat he buys which sees him travel from Europe to Morocco via the sea and desert by boat and sea plane. All the while he is either chasing or being chased by a shady character known as Sakharine who is less sweet than his name infers, for they are both after the same clues hidden inside these model boats to find a treasure hidden under the sea after a fierce pirate battle between Sakharine’s ancestor, Red Rackham, and the ancestor of a drunken sea-captain who accompanies Tintin, Captain Haddock. Along the way they are attacked by thugs, shot at by a sea plane, suffer from visions in the desert, take part in a chase through Morocco on a motorbike and then duel with dock cranes!

During the trek through the desert there is a brilliant flashback sequence of the battle between Red Rackham and Sir Francis Haddock where the latter’s treasure was lost. This battle is the best action sequence in the film and ten times better than any of the battle sequences in any of the ‘Pirates Of The Caribbean’ films.

As confusing as this all sounds it is pulled off with all the feeling of an animated ‘Indiana Jones’ film and never feels like it is moving too fast or dragging at any point. This is a testament to both the directors and the writers, but also to  the stunning voice cast comprising Jamie Bell as Tintin; Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as the detectives, as well as absolutely stellar vocal performances from Andy Serkis as the drunken Scottish Captain Haddock and Daniel Craig who plays Sakharine with a brilliantly light, pantomime villainesque feel.

This is a triumph and must surely be one of the best films of the year so far as the 3D didn’t distract me at all from the visuals and the story line. My favourite moments were the interesting segues between scenes and one small reference to ‘Jaws’ as Tintin swims up to some thugs just under the water leaving only his trademark quiff sticking above the surface like Spielberg’s iconic shark. One criticism I do have is that because it is clearly an origin story which will be followed by at least one sequel; it ends with a cliffhanger where Tintin, Snowy and Captain Haddock hatch a plan to go after the treasure it seemed they had been searching for throughout this film. Which is a bit of an anti-climax…but at least there will be another one for me to wait a few more years for.

Review: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 4, 2011 by Tom Austin-Morgan

This Cold War spy thriller, adapted from John le Carré’s 1974 novel of the same title, has already been shot as a seven part TV series on the BBC in 1979 starring Alec Guinness as the main character, George Smiley. As such there has already been an iconic and detailed portrayal of the novel on-screen, but enough time seems to have passed to re-tell it for an audience that has very little clue about the Cold War.

Anyone expecting a James Bond style spy flick will be sorely disappointed (a couple of teenage boys in the screening I was at left after half an hour). This is a slow-paced (so slow that my girlfriend, Jo, fell asleep at least twice!) film that concentrates on the paranoia and suspicion that permeated the secret services during the Cold War and the hunt for a double agent operating in the upper echelons of the British Secret Intelligence Service (S.I.S.). In fact the director, Tomas Alfredson, has said that instead of car chases there are looks across rooms between characters in this film.

The main problem with the film seems to be that the subject matter covered in both the novel and the TV series is far too weighty to fit into a feature film. Unless you are well up to speed on all the specialist terms used during the film you may well find yourself completely lost as there is not enough time in the two hours available to explain all the terms in Basil Exposition moments. For example; ‘The Circus’ is the name used instead of the S.I.S.; ‘Witchcraft’ is the name used for the Soviet intelligence the British spies are after, as well as the more familiar ‘moles’ and ‘nurseries’.

That said, the casting and quality of acting on display here is exemplary; there are some of the best actors of their generation mixing it with some of the best actors of the moment. Tom Hardy, Benedict Cumberbatch and Mark Strong line up against the outstanding Gary Oldman, John Hurt, Colin Firth, Ciarán Hinds and Toby Jones.

Oldman plays a very subdued role as George Smiley; most of his acting is done with his eyes as opposed to most of the hyperactive roles he has played in the past. Toby Jones plays an obnoxious operative called Percy Alleline, but the stand-out performance amongst this ensemble is Tom Hardy, who commands complete attention whenever he appears on-screen. Each and every one of the cast seems to have locked in with the themes of the novel; the glances that are shared by them say a thousand times more than the dialogue could ever do in the time constraints of the film. There is an almost visible sense of the paranoia and loathing between certain characters which builds tension you could cut with a knife.

The tone of the film’s colour palette is wonderfully sepia with every shot set in an orange or brown room that gives off the appearance they have been stained with decades of cigarette smoke. In fact, each and every frame seems to have been shot through a fog of smoke, so top marks to Alfredson and director of photography, Hoyte Van Hoytema.

This is easily the first serious contender for multiple Oscars next year and it wouldn’t surprise me to see Oldman pick up his first, long-awaited and much deserved, golden statue. But, as with most serious contenders for the top prize in cinema, the film is a little stuffy and knowingly intelligent and because of this – plus the lack of explanation of various plot points – I find it hard to imagine that it will win over a massive audience. Much like 2007’s ‘There Will Be Blood’, this seems much more like a masterclass in acting than a mass-appeal blockbuster.

In short: awesome acting, great cast but lack of detail in the plot makes it difficult to follow. There’s a whole lot of Tinker Tailor before you get to the Sailor Spy.

Review: Captain America: The First Avenger

Posted in Film with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 14, 2011 by Tom Austin-Morgan

‘Captain America: The First Avenger’ is the final installment of introductions to the characters appearing in ‘The Avengers’ next Summer. Chris Evans, whose last superhero role was as The Human Torch in the ‘Fantastic 4’ movies (also a Marvel comic adaptation), takes to another famous spandex-clad role as the red-white-and-blue-est good guy this side of DC’s Superman.

Steve Rogers is a small, thin, asthmatic, weedy kid who wants to join the army to fight the Nazis as he dislikes bullying (’cause that’s what the Nazis were, right?!). After being turned down time and again at various recruiting stations he is spotted by a German doctor, Dr Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci), who signs him up for an experimental project which might see him signed up and on the front line.

During training he stands out, much to the disapproval of Colonel Chester Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones), by displaying less-than-adequate physical ability. But his ability to think outside of the box, as well as selflessness, bravery, determination and his sense of right and wrong mark him out to be selected for a revolutionary scientific procedure to produce the perfect soldier to uphold America’s ideals.

The experiment succeeds, and a German spy steals some of the serum that has affected Rogers’ genetic make-up and kills Dr Erskine in the process. Rogers chases the spy down and takes back the serum. This is the first scene where he uses his new-found strength and provides a couple of slap-stick moments as he is finding his feet, being that he is a couple of feet taller and wider, and immeasurably stronger than before. It also sees him wielding a taxi door as a makeshift shield in the iconic pose of Captain America.

Despite all this, Colonel Phillips still denies him the chance to fight on the front line; instead he becomes the face of U.S. propaganda against the Nazis at home, performing in theatres in the garish Captain America suit from the comics and the awful 1990 film. While all this is happening an SS officer, Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving), has found a religious artefact called the Tesseract which Schmidt describes as “the jewel of Odin’s treasure room”, linking it in with the Thor storyline. He and his assistant, Dr Arnim Zola (Toby Jones), decide to distance themselves from the Nazi party. Their scientific division, HYDRA, starts focusing its research into producing the ultimate weapon using the power of the Tesseract.

While on a tour of the forces, Rogers gets a fleeting chance to show exactly what he’s made of when he realises his brother has been captured by HYDRA, so he commandeers a plane with the help of love interest and  stiff-upper-lipped Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) and Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper), Tony Stark’s dad, and parachutes behind enemy lines.

Rogers infiltrates the base, rescues the captured soldiers and brings them all back to the U.S. base after coming face-to-face with Schmidt, who reveals himself to be the Red Skull, the original experimental soldier created by Dr Erskine. Rogers is hailed a hero and is welcomed into the army by Colonel Phillips and straight into the role of Captain in his own elite division; talk about a backtrack!

Thus ensues a long montage of this group of soldiers fighting all across Europe against HYDRA’ s (not the Nazis) super-weaponary; his suit has now become a little more military-issue and less star-spangled, though the colours are still red, white and blue. This ends with what seems to be the final battle where our heroes infiltrate the mountain hideout of HYDRA in the biggest underground warehouse in cinematic history (it has a runway for the biggest bomber you’re ever imagined that has to be 5 miles long – it is ridiculous)! The sequence ends in a chase after the plane as it is taking off, a fight in a part of the plane with six HYDRA soldiers around massive bombs and then yet another fight – this time to the death with the Red Skull, who was planning to destroy America (not any of the other allied countries as we have been miraculously edited out of World War II by Hollywood).

Rogers cannot turn the plane from its course so ditches it somewhere in the freezing waters around the North Pole. He wakes up in a suspicious room somewhere in his native New York; when he realises he is being lied to he escapes and breaks out into modern-day New York where he is quickly apprehended by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and inducted into the Avenger programme whereupon the film ends. Talk about an anti-climax.

But then this is, as I said at the beginning of the article, an introduction to a character who will be expanded upon in ‘The Avengers’. But it would have been interesting to see how Steve Rogers adapts to his modern surroundings and what the impact of his situation has on his psyche. Somehow I get the feeling we will find out about this in ‘The Avengers’.

That movie aside, ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’ is an interesting film. Its visuals are pretty good and the casting is top-notch; it far outstrips the rubbish 1990 straight-to-release outing. The supporting cast was outstanding; Toby Jones, Stanley Tucci and Tommy Lee Jones especially seem to relish the roles they are given by really hamming it up. Hayley Atwell however, was no good at all. A bit of a charisma vacuum really.  Hugo Weaving was brooding and sinister as the Red Skull, though quite why his head turned red, his hair fell out and his nose dropped off were never truly addressed other than his inner faults manifested themselves. This still doesn’t explain why Captain America didn’t have some sort of physical defect to do with being good, like an enormous chest to support his big heart or something. Chris Evans loves these kind of over-the-top roles and dials the cheesy lines up to 11.

I found the CG a little distressing at the start of the film where Chris Evans’ head is placed on top of a skinny man’s body. But probably because I know what he looks like in real proportions. The Red Skull effects, on the other hand, are flawless. But the big gripe I have with the film as a whole is the ending; it is far too abrupt and anti-climactic, though I do realise that it is merely an introduction to a character. I think the director, Joe Johnson, handled it well given that Captain America is a bit of a cartoon and previous outings have been panned. Now we just have to wait for ‘The Avengers’ next year, though if you stay ’til the end you get a teaser trailer for said film.