Captain America: The Winter Soldier

The first avenger returns in his second solo film; which sees the red, white and blue covered crusader take on much more than the Nazi Regime.

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Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) has never really had a moment to think after he was unfrozen and then straight away thrust into battling for the fate of the Earth in The Avengers. So now Captain America is trying to adjust to the lifestyle of 21st century society. Once again working for Nick Fury and Alexander Pierce (portrayed by the talented Robert Redford),and teaming up with Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson); the pair continue to complete missions for S.H.I.E.L.D in the hope that they can bring freedom to the planet. However, now that S.H.I.E.L.D have the technology to determine crime before it happens, Captain America begins to question the very organisation he works for. His trust in his superiors are the least of his problems though, as an undercover plan emerges that is much greater than anything he could have imagined. On top of that the introduction of a super-human assassin known only as The Winter Soldier, proves to be quite the competition for ‘Cap’; and makes his task of completing his mission even tougher.

What has been continuously noticeable about Marvel heroes who receive their own film, is that in their first movie their story will be introduced to the audience. But in their second outing the viewers get to see a more in-depth look at the characters themselves. As with Thor’s second film ‘Thor: The Dark World’, where we got a better picture of his history and actually how close he was to his brother Loki. In the Captain’s sequel the audience once again receives this treatment in the form of an old friend from his past making a return; without giving too much away this revival forces a few tear-jerking moments.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is on a completely different level than any other Marvel film that has come before it, simply because it has a much more mature and grown-up underlining plot behind it. By adding a villainous character such as The Winter Soldier – a killer who has helped shape all chaos of the past century – it makes the film touch on terrorist themes; hence making it more realistic and close to home. Unlike in previous films such as Captain America (2011) with the magic of the Tesseract, Avengers Assemble (2012) with the alien Chitauri army and Thor (2011) which basically had an all round space theme, this movie is made more realistic by using everyday threats that we face in the real world. Sure the technology is a little far-fetched at times, but it is much more real-life than what we have seen in previous Marvel films; and that is what makes it stand out from the rest.

As the phases of the Avengers films carry on, we are, with every film, introduced to more and more of the caped crusaders; and this film gave us one of my favourites, ‘Falcon’ (Anthony Mackie). It is great that the directors – Anthony and Joe Russo – decided to include Falcon (also known as Sam Wilson) into this instalment as him and the Captain constantly team up in the comic books. One of the great aspects of these new Marvel films is how the writers are adapting the heroes for a more up-to-date audience; and Falcon is an example of that. Instead of him wearing his classic brown-winged spandex and him having telepathic bird powers, he has been toned down to having robotic metal wings which attach like a jet-pack, that he used when he was fighting in Iraq. In the next pictures of the phases we can hope to see – apart from Ant-Man who is getting his own film – Black Panther (the African-fighting vigilante), Doctor Strange (the Earth’s most powerful sorcerer) and The Vision (an android who is created by the robotic menace Ultron.

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Other than the introduced characters and gripping storyline, what makes this one stand out as well, is that the effects and picture quality are just amazing. All Marvel films have had an incredible picture to accompany a great plot – apart from maybe The Incredible Hulk – however The Russo Brothers explained that they wanted to use more practical effects, rather than just load the whole film up with masses of CGI; and it is obvious when watching what an improvement it makes.

As with the conclusion of Shane Black’s Iron Man 3, it is hard to assume where Marvel are going to go next with future Avengers themed films, after viewing this ninth installment to the franchise. As something occurs in the movie that drastically alters what Avengers: Age of Ultron will contain. But the stories have been in good hands so far, and with Joss Whedon and Kevin Feige once again helming the Avengers director and producer chairs, it will surely play out well.

All in all Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a definite step forward in the Marvel Cinematic Universe; with its mature themes and practical effects. Let’s just hope that they continue on this path, and carry on bringing films to the screen that are enjoyed by both comic book fanatics and film lovers alike.

Django Unchained

The dialogue master delivers another masterpiece.

Quentin Tarantino, one of the greatest directors and writers of our time, has done it again, creating a motion picture which have all audience members glued to the screen throughout the 2 hours 45 minute film.

This film is slightly different compared to his other works though, where many of his earlier films such as ‘Reservoir Dogs’ (1992) and ‘Pulp Fiction’ (1994), are dialogue driven, keeping the film going with the characters and story line, Django Unchained, still gives the classicDjangoUnchainedOfficialPosterPT aspects of a Tarantino film, but presents the audience with something more. The director shows off how successful his films have been by pulling out more special effects and action, which we saw come to light in ‘Inglourious Basterds’ (2009), than has been seen in his other features. Tarantino makes the effects, which mirror that of Tarantino’s directing friend Robert Rodriguez’s film ‘Planet Terror’ (2007), his own though, and doesn’t over do the action, not letting his fans forget that his work centres around his characters rather than massive explosions.

The film is based in 1858 and centres around Django (Jamie Foxx), a slave who is freed by Dr. King Shultz (Christoph Waltz), who trains Django to become a bounty hunter, like himself. Django agrees, on the condition that once they are done Shultz will help him find his wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington). Their journey for his wife leads them to attempt to make a deal with Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), the owner of ‘Candy land’ which is home to hundreds of slaves, including Broomhilda.

The all star cast, which also includes Samuel L. Jackson, Jonah Hill and Quentin Tarantino himself, execute their roles beautifully, Christoph Waltz showed his terrific acting capabilities in ‘Inglourious Basterds’, and although this time he has switched to being a hero rather than a villain, he plays the suavely, sophisticated Dr. King Shultz in a way christopher-waltz-jamie-foxx-django-unchainedwhich will surely secure him a role in the Director’s next picture. Leonardo DiCaprio gives off an essence from his character which will make you want to rid the world of him, just as much as Django. The film is stolen by the the talents of Jamie Foxx, portraying Django in the changes from being a slave, to a bounty hunter, to a hero. Making the audience feel his pain for the wife he has lost, and what he will go through and will do to get her back.

Once again one of the aspects of the film is to shock, mainly with the violence shown towards the slaves, however it is not overdone, the violence is slightly muted in the same way ‘Reservoir Dogs’ was, it is more in the imagination of what is happening that is shocking, rather than the image being on the screen. This is the second time Tarantino has attempted to reinvent a genre in his own way, the first being ‘Inglourious Basterds’. This time it is a western, the genre is captured well with the film, using certain characteristics which define a film of this type, such as the landscape shots, angles at which the camera is placed and the ruthless gun fights between heroes and villains.

Although the film is Tarantino’s longest running, it could be said that it is by far one of his best, with a gripping story line, wonderfully portrayed characters, shocking violence and a soundtrack which any fan will be want to get their hands, Django Unchained, despite Tarantino thinking ‘Inglourious Bastards’ was, truly is his masterpiece.

Quentin Tarantino’s other work:

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Reservoir Dogs ‘1992’

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Pulp Fiction ‘1994’

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Jackie Brown ‘1997’

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Kill Bill Volume 1 ‘2003’

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Kill Bill Volume 2 ‘2004’

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Death Proof ‘2007’

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Inglourious Basterds ‘2009’

Avengers Assemble

There has been a dream which every Marvel comic book fan has dreamt of ever since they were young, for the greatest team of the comic book world to be a reality…that dream has almost come true.

Joss Whedon has brought to the silver screen what could possibly be the biggest superhero film of our time. A film which includes not only some of comic book fans favourite heroes but also thanks to Hollywood, film fans favourites as well. Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Hulk and Black Widow have been in some of the biggest superhero films of the last 10 years and ‘The Avengers’ brings them all together, including Hawkeye and Nick Fury, who are well known characters in the Marvel universe.

‘Avengers Assemble’ brings back the villain of ‘Loki’ from previous film ‘Thor’, who hatches a plan to take over the world and reign supreme over all humanity. Thankfully Nick Fury assembles the Avengers to try and foil his plot, however not all of the team are willing to cooperate at first which leads to a struggle for the heroes to become a team.

The film delivers our heroic characters in all their glory once again, Thor’s god-like booming voice, Captain America’s Role of command and Iron Man’s quirky personality. However since the film was put on the cards many fans have been wondering whether or not it will live up to the comic book origins, the answer is yes and no. The film delivers the heroes the way we know them best, giving us fast paced action , super human abilities and classic comic quotes such as when Captain America says to Hulk “Hulk…smash”. However there are few things missing from the film, such as Giant Man/Ant Man and Wasp who were two of the original Avengers, also there is one major aspect that the film did not bring forth which is that when we see Bruce Banner change in to the Hulk there is no heart pounding music and we don’t see him change like in the earlier Hulk films, where it was done so well.

Joss Whedon

Avengers Assemble stars Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man, Chris Evans as Captain America, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Scarlatt Johansson as Black Widow, Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, Mark Ruffalo as Hulk, Samuel. L. Jackson as Nick Fury and Tom Hiddleston as Loki. It was directed by Joss Whedon who brought us Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Serenity and The Cabin in the Woods.

The film ties together all the previous super hero films like Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America and The Incredible Hulk which, if watched back all have aspects of the other heroes in them and certain characters who pop up in them all, including of course cameos by Stan Lee.

Comic book fans and film lovers alike will enjoy this film and there is a possibility of a sequel down the line, as we get a sneak peek at the end of the film. It has been a while in the making but the efforts of Joss Whedon have paid off…”If we can’t save the earth…you can be damn sure we’ll avenge it.”

The origin of ‘Avengers Assemble’:

Captain America: The First Avenger- At the end of the film the Captain is unfrozen into the 20th century to an anxious Nick Fury who is proposing a mission.

Iron Man- Nick Fury visits Tony Stark at home and explains that he is “not the only superhero in the world” and wants to discuss the “Avengers Initiative”.

The Incredible Hulk- At the end of the film Tony Stark visits General Ross whilst he is drinking in a bar and explains that he is “putting together a team”.

Iron Man 2- Agent Coulson (who appeared in Iron Man) from S.H.I.E.L.D reports the discovery of a large hammer (Thor’s) in the New Mexico desert.

Thor- ‘Selvig’ (the scientist throughout the film) is taken to S.H.I.E.L.D and is asked to study the Tesseract (the powerful blue cube from Captain America) by Nick Fury.

The Avengers…assemble.