Archive for Winter Soldier

Review: Captain America: Civil War

Posted in Film with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 16, 2016 by Tom Austin-Morgan

Captain America Civil War poster

This is the second film this year where the good guys are punching each other in the face because of disagreements over how to deal with collateral damage caused during previous films in the franchise. Though instead of two heroes we have about six on each side in this film. Is it too much?

Before I answer this question there’s another, more pressing question at hand: How long can Hollywood keep pumping out superhero films before they reach a critical mass and people get bored? How long can they keep making enough money to continue their franchises into the 2020s and beyond like they’re planned for?

The last few films about costumed crimefighters have left me feeling a bit nonplussed leading me to question whether they’re working any more. Avengers: Age of Ultron was underwhelming with some great bits, Ant Man was fun but not great and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice had some great moments but was a complete mess.

Fortunately, for me, Captain America: Civil War raises the bar back up again for this tired genre. It is unfair to compare CA: CW and BvS: DoJ, but it’s inevitable. Where the DC/Warner Brothers film felt like something to endure, despite rattling along, Marvel know how to invite the audience in and have fun. Even when everything is going wrong, it’s still colourful and interesting to look at, except for a certain scene near the end which is heart-wrenching to watch. This can only be achieved after experiencing these characters’ stories over the last eight years and got to know them as (almost) fully rounded characters through multiple movies, something the darker DC/WB films failed at as we don’t know much about any of their current clutch of characters.

It would be fairer to compare CA: CW to Avengers: Age of Ultron. Ultron was potentially a great villain, but the film was mishandled and felt like a film made by committee rather than by an auteur. Once again though, Marvel killed off a great villain, which is what is so refreshing about CA: CW. It is cleverly written by the Russo brother, just like CA: Winter Soldier was and, although Crossbones was killed off in the first scene (bad Marvel!), they have introduced the most calculating villain since Loki in Zemo. And he didn’t even wear a costume or even a uniform.

If you’re a fan of the Marvel oeuvre, you’ll really enjoy this, it has all the colour, panache and witty dialogue you’ve come to expect. But there is also real heartbreak in the fallout from Zemo’s plan and the conclusion of the film has an ellipsis that really makes you wonder where the characters are going to go from here.

CA: CW is the Avengers film we deserved from A: AoU and expands the Marvel Cinematic Universe further, amazingly giving each of the myriad characters enough time to shine in their own right. The film  is stolen by stand out performances from Tom Holland as Spider-Man and Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther. Ant Man does something you may not expect and there’s a really great bit of misdirection involving Zemo’s plan the Winter Soldier(s).

There’s a heck of a lot going on in this movie, but even so there were two or three moments where the film sags, unlike BvS: DoJ you are acutely aware of how long you’ve been in the cinema during these scenes. But even so you always know what’s going on and each character’s motivation is crystal clear and that’s a testament to the writing and the storytelling that has come before this.

Put simply, I’m really looking forward to the Spider-Man and Black Panther movies, but CA: CW has rejuvenated my interest in the superhero genre, for the time being.

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Anywhere But Here, Episode 86 – Don’t Poke It!

Posted in Podcast with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 11, 2014 by Tom Austin-Morgan

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A lot of things are covered in this week’s podcast. Ranging all the way from the new Batmobile design that Zack Snyder released this week, what you guys thought about it and why it NEEDS guns! Also discussed are Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and where the producers are going with the second series, thanks to an article by @monstersyfyshow.

Ant talks about the new Doctor Who episodes and brings a story about a grave-digger who exhumed a corpse for its relatives to pose in a photo with! Tom tells the story about a homeless woman who claims to be pregnant with Prince Harry’s baby, the same week that the Kate and William have announced their own pregnancy.

The guys talk about the inexplicable success of Kanye West and Justin Beiber when they do awful things like stop their concerts until they know the guys not dancing are definitely disabled. Lumped into this is the success of Mrs Brown’s Boys, a shit sit-com about an Irish man dressed up as a woman swearing. It doesn’t hold up in the shadow of good comedy like The Fast Show, Spaced and Black Books, but somehow there’s an audience for it? Do you know anyone who watches it and is a fan? Add your views to this discussion on Twitter and Facebook.

Ant & Tom also put forward some new ideas for a segment about watching and reviewing films or TV shows on Netflix as well as some ideas for merchandise, let us know on Twitter, Facebook or e-mail if you have ideas for the segment or if you would like to have as a t-shirt, mug, etc.

Big love goes out to all our listeners this week, but especially Robbie Polanco, David Williams, Monster SciFi Show and Weekly Geek Speak (we hope Andrew didn’t get into trouble!).

 

Review: Thor: The Dark World

Posted in Film with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 4, 2013 by Tom Austin-Morgan

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The latest in the never-ending march of the Marvel Studios films was released in the UK last Wednesday after what seemed like an age since the first trailers and leaked posters. And it’s landed with a clap of thunder.

A lot of familiar faces are back from the first Thor film as well as Avengers Assemble including Chris Hemsworth & Tom Hiddleston as the titular God and his tricksy half-Brother Loki, Natalie Portman, Kat Dennings & Stellan Skarsgård return as the group of scientists who are always on the lookout for the return of the extra-terrestrial Norse deities. The other Asgaardians are also back in the shape of Anthony Hopkins and Rene Russo as Odin and Frigga, Thor and Loki’s parents; Idris Elba as the gatekeeper, Heimdall and the Warriors Four; Sif, Fandral, Volstagg & Hogun played by Jaimie Alexander, Zachary Levi, Ray Stevenson & Tadanobu Asano respectively.

In fact, the only notable new face is one you probably wouldn’t recognise at first glance as he is hidden under quite a lot of make up and speaks the majority of his lines in Elvish & with quite a deep voice modulation: Christopher Eccleston plays the Dark Elf leader, Malekith, whose race ruled the universe under a dark veil before the Asgaardians defeated them and brought light back the Nine Realms. All sound a bit sword-and-sandals and less super hero-y? That’s because Kenneth Branagh has been replaced by Alan Taylor as director. Taylor has most recently directed the ultimate fantasy TV series, Game of Thrones, which may explain the change in setting and tone.

In fact, the opening 30 minutes or so of Thor: The Dark World are a bit bleak and low on energy, even though Thor and his band of warriors are off battling evil across the Nine Realms while Jane Foster (Portman) and Darcy Lewis (Dennings) are trying to find both Thor and their professor, Erik Selvig, who has gone AWOL.

It’s only when things have gone really bad and Thor releases Loki from his cell in the dungeons (for his crimes against the universe in Avengers Assemble) that the film really picks up speed. Tom Hiddleston really does steal the entire film from everyone; the interplay between his character and Thor, who is limited by the character’s emotional range, is really funny but also highlights the fact that it’s easier to write for a slimy villain than for a benevolent character.

However, there are some comedy Thor moments, such as him having to ask for directions while in the Tube in London (where all the plot set on Earth is based). Though the directions he is given by the commuter are probably more laughable, if you know London! The majority of the laughs come from Loki though; as the God of Mischief he is the one able to let go and have real fun with his character, especially in the scene where he shape-shifts both himself and Thor a number of times. Darcy is there for comedic effect as well, but I found her injections somewhat forced and her character grated on me very quickly.

It was good to see both Natalie Portman and Idris Elba having more to do in their roles this time round as both their stars have risen since the first film. Elba has even become so famous outside the UK that they let Heimdall take his helmet off! He also has one of the more bad-ass action sequences as he single-handedly takes down a cloaked Elvish ship with nothing but his bare hands and a couple of daggers.

The action sequences are what make this film as the plot can be a little hard to keep up with if you aren’t ‘au fait’ with the Nordic character and place names, not to mention the plot about dimensions aligning and Malekith’s plan to bring darkness to the universe again using ‘The Aether’, a strange, almost sentient, fluid that infects a host body and wields untold power. The final fight sequence leaves you breathless but, thanks to the fact Taylor has kept the film under two hours, doesn’t drag on and on like quite a few of the big super hero films of late – even if it does span dimensions.

All in all the plot is a bit all-over-the-place (but this is a sci-fi/fantasy film after all); the costume, set and world designs are spell-binding and the action sequences are thrilling and tense. This is a worthy sequel, not better than the original, but different enough that it doesn’t matter. Who knows how far the character can be taken, but judging by the two post-credit sequences he will be back in at least the next Avengers film.

P.S. The first of the two post-credit scenes stars Benicio Del Toro as The Collector, who is tasked with looking after The Aether. He will be a main villain in the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy film due for release next year.  This film will be a mix of live action and animation with characters like Rocket Racoon (whose name speaks for itself) and Groot, a living tree. This has worried me since I heard about it as the whole universe started off based in semi-realism and seems to be heading in a very cartoonish direction. I will try to reserve judgement until a trailer is posted – but things are starting to look and sound a bit weird.

Roll on Captain America: Winter Soldier.