Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

First avenger
Image rights belong to Marvel Studios and Paramount Pictures

Captain America: The First Avenger – Film Review

Cast: Chris Evans, Sebastian Stan, Hayley Atwell, Tommy Lee Jones, Hugo Weaving, Toby Jones, Stanley Tucci, Dominic Cooper

Director: Joe Johnston

Synopsis: A frail young man with aspirations of serving his country during World War II is given a chance to become the superhero Captain America via a super secret programme.

Review: When the world erupted in war back in 1939, countries the world over were all looking for able and strong men to sign up for their respective armies to take on and bring down the evil Nazi regime.  In the case of one frail sickly young man, who was absolutely determined to sign up and fight for his country, yet his aspirations were forever getting trampled on due to his poor health. This is until, through a top secret programme, he has his chance to become a super soldier. This man is of course Steve Rogers, AKA Captain America.

the first avenger

Back when the all powerful Marvel machine was still in its first warming up phase, director Joe Johnston with screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, provide an interesting take on the back story of one of the most popular heroes of the MCU. His journey from a weak young man, to a near invincible badass though was far from an easy one, but it is very interesting to watch. Beaten up by what seems like every kid in his neighbourhood as a child, the early scenes of the film show just how down on his luck he is, with everyone including his best friend, Sergeant James Barnes AKA Bucky (Sebastian Stan), going off to war without him.

Chris Evans in his second stint as a superhero, after two ill fated spells as the Human Torch in 2005 and 2007, is tremendous in the lead role. His humanity and compassion shines through, and it’s this along with his dogged determination, combined with some convincing CGI that makes him look very frail indeed. that brings him to the attention of Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci) the creator of the super soldier programme who fast-tracks Rogers for the programme, and for battle.

Yet despite this very intriguing opening, the film suffers from pacing issues, as Cap instead of being thrown immediately into battle, is made to wait. All the while the war rages on, and the dastardly Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving) AKA The Red Skull of HYDRA is preparing to unleash chaos on the world in the form of a very rare off world artefact. The pacing issues persist throughout though as while there are some great action scenes for us to enjoy, a lot of scenes are put together in a montage that almost feels like the studio had blown their production budget on certain effects and were forced to cut back on the action. That being said, there are some action scenes that are just flat out awesome, including taking a zip wire onto a moving train. These scenes do make for some spectacular viewing but a bit more action, and not montaging through considerable portions of it would have been great.

There are plenty of some very big names on display here, and all give great performances. Tommy Lee Jones is on fine form as a gruff US General, Hayley Atwell as the fierce but compassionate Agent Peggy Carter who has something of a soft spot for Cap, and she proved to be such a popular character that she got her own spin off series, and Cap’s best buddy, Bucky. Flying the HYDRA flag along with Herr Schmidt and Dr Arnim Zola (Toby Jones.) While both give solid performances, their accents are somewhat questionable. Yet Johnston managed to create a very gritty Superhero war movie that looks superb with great attention to detail, and he gives a character who has proved to become one of the MCU’s most popular heroes a solid introduction to the Marvel Universe and help build Marvel’s Phase 1 to an exciting climax.

Cap gets his stars and stripes good and proper, with some solid acting and directing, but more action set pieces wouldn’t have gone astray. 

b

Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

winter-soldier-poster
Image is property of Marvel Studios and Walt Disney Studios

Captain America: The Winter Soldier – Film Review 

Cast:  Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Cobie Smulders, Frank Grillo, Emily VanCamp, Hayley Atwell, Robert Redford, Samuel L. Jackson

Directors: Joe and Anthony Russo

Synopsis: Taking place after the events of the Avengers, Steve Rogers continues to struggle to adapt to the modern world, and find his place in society. However, his allegiance to S.H.I.EL.D is called into question amid the rise of an adversary known only as the “Winter Soldier”

Review: Phase Two of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe is now in full swing and with the second solo film featuring our favourite starred and striped hero, as he struggles to adapt to an era in which he knows nothing about. All the while he is working for an organisation that is holding some sinister secrets. All in all, what we have is one of the best Marvel films ever made and by far the best Marvel film of Phase Two of their cinematic Universe.

The film is set in Modern USA after the events of The Avengers with Cap living his life whilst working for S.H.I.EL.D.  It is soon realised that S.H.I.EL.D has some conflicting ideas to what he stands for, and of course this creates friction between Rogers and his employer. He is the patriotic, do it for your country superhero, but S.H.I.EL.D is not on the same wavelength as he is. This conflicting ideologies causes Rogers to question who he really works for, in doing so it adds real depth to the character of Captain America. While all this is happening, a new enemy appears and begins to cause some destruction. The ruthless Winter Soldier is out on a mission, to eradicate Captain America. The Winter Soldier was a terrific, deadly foe played brilliantly by someone who you may recognise, and ranks as one of the best villains of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to date, second only to the God of Mischief Loki.

winter soldier

Chris Evans was again superb in the role of Captain America, the character had almost unprecedented depth and he was awesome in the action scenes once more. Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow was likewise superb. This is her biggest role in a Marvel film to date, and she gave an excellent performance.  Similarly, Samuel L Jackson gives his best performance in the role of Nick Fury.  There are a number of excellent newcomers also. Anthony Mackie as “Falcon” was an excellent addition to the case and provided some great moments in the film.  Likewise with Robert Redford playing S.H.I.E.L.D boss Alexander Pierce.

Along with some great characters, new and old, the film has some incredible action sequences. The first action scene at the start of the film was intense and enthralling, but as the film progresses they only get better. The scenes with the Winter Soldier are particularly thrilling, especially when he faces off against Captain America. Cap’s shield remains one of the coolest weapons in the Marvel universe.

By now, it is evident that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is all interwoven at this point, and this is particularly true. there are many expansions on what went on in the first Captain America film that are touched upon in this film. Thus you should ideally have seen the first film before going into watch this instalment as a lot of of the plot points will make much more sense, and the film will be much more enjoyable.

Nevertheless: Captain America: The Winter Soldier was a superb film and a definite step up from The First Avenger. There were improvements in every respect from villian, to action, to character development. It is the best stand alone film from Marvel since the first Iron Man film. It does not quite eclipse The Avengers, but  it sets the story up perfectly for next year’s Avengers: Age of Ultron. Marvel fans should rejoice as it is currently ruling the Superhero genre of films.  DC’s untitled Batman VS Superman film is still two years away, and if this summer’s Guardians of the Galaxy is a success, there may be no stopping the Marvel Cinematic Universe from world domination, of the superhero genre of films.

A terrific story with some outstanding performances from Evans and Johansson, this is the MCU’s best movie so far, without a question of a doubt.

a