Tag Archives: marvel

Film Review – Captain America: The Winter Soldier

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Captain America (Chris Evans), Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson), Black Widow (Scarlett Johannson and new recruit Falcon (Anthony Mackie) face a new foe in the form of the Winter Soldier as terrorist organisation Hydra rears its ugly head in the most unlikely of places.

Another week, another Marvel superhero flick. The genre is walking a very well worn path by this point and many are starting to feel a little bit numb to its formula. Captain America: The Winter Soldier could well have been the straw that broke this series’ back, but fortunately there’s enough new and interesting in there to ensure Marvel’s stock remains as high as ever.

Captain America: The First Avenger, Cap’s origin story, took place in World War II, but naturally (considering what happened at the end of that film and in Avengers Assemble) we’re now in a modern day setting. And we have modern day themes as well. The Winter Soldier examines themes of privacy, intrusion, drones, and other similar ideas that feel incredibly relevant when you take a glance at the news of today.

The problem with having a modern day setting is that it removes one of the key elements that made the first film work: the period World War II setting. That’s not to say this film doesn’t work, but it feels a little less unique.

However, despite its current themes and setting, the film actually feels more akin to a 1970s spy or espionage thriller, or even a Connery/Moore era James Bond film at times. Stick the Cap in a tuxedo and you’ve got yourself a Bond film. Apart from the guy who has massive metal wings and can fly everywhere, obviously.

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That would be Sam Wilson, or Falcon (played by Anthony Mackie), who’s one of the new characters introduced in The Winter Soldier. Falcon is a decent addition and along with the inclusion of Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow as a main character completes an interesting and dynamic central trio.

Then there’s the Winter Soldier himself as the film’s central villain (or is he?). One aspect of the past few Marvel films where they’ve dropped the ball is with their villains, in that they just aren’t that villainous. Both Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World featured very weak villains, but they’ve upped the game somewhat here. The Winter Soldier is both menacing and also has an air of mystery surrounding him which adds up to a much more threatening villain than we’ve seen previously.

Much of The Winter Soldier is actually much slower paced and plot heavy than you’d expect from a Marvel film and this plays very much in its favour, although younger viewers may not appreciate this as much. However, true to form everything goes ballistic in the final third and we get the obligatory 20 minute action scene with everything being blown to smithereens. Obviously, with superhero films, this formula is the natural one to follow, but it would have been nice to stray from this for a change.

Whilst The Winter Soldier could, and perhaps should, have been the point where we tire of Marvel superhero films, it’s actually one of the stronger entries in the whole franchise that should see him have more equal footing alongside his super-peers when it comes to next year’s Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Pros

  • The Winter Soldier is an excellent villain
  • Interesting and more involved plot
  • Dynamic central trio of heroes

Cons

  • Final third a little too formulaic
  • Loses some of its identity with shift in time period from the first film

4 pigeons

4/5 pigeons

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Film Review: Iron Man 3

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Following the events in New York (as seen in The Avengers) Tony Stark is having trouble sleeping. However, when a new foe enters the fray in the form of global terrorist The Mandarin, he must put his anxieties to one side to protect those closest to him.

Some people loved The Avengers (or Avengers Assemble here in the UK) whilst others hated it. No matter how you felt about it, it can’t be denied that it was Marvel’s biggest movie to date, and so it was always going to be a pretty daunting task to follow it up. Fortunately, the task fell to Iron Man and Robert Downey Jr, probably the most enigmatic and popular of the Avengers crew.

Iron Man 3 also sees Shane Black brought in as writer/director in place of Jon Favreau (who still keeps his role has Tony Stark’s muscle Happy Hogan) and he’s done a decent job of building upon the previous two films. Iron Man 3 rattles along at a fair old pace as you’d expect from a Marvel superhero flick, although it does take more time to focus on the man inside the tin can. Here we see more of Stark the man and the film is richer for it; part of what makes the franchise so appealing is Stark’s witty dialogue and there’s plenty of that on show here.

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Now, the Mandarin. I’m no comic book fanboy but I understand that the Mandarin is kind of a big deal. A lot of people were very excited to have him in the film, and, without giving anything away, the direction in which the character has been taken is likely to prove hugely contentious. It’s a bold move and there’ll be some who like it, but there’ll be plenty who are downright outraged. In terms of the narrative, the character works reasonably well although your enjoyment of the film could well depend on your expectations of how the Mandarin will be handled.

Iron Man 3’s other villain is Aldrich Killian played by Guy Pearce. Killian has developed a drug/treatment thing called Extremis (also apparently a big deal in the comics) that can regenerate limbs and also cause the recipient to raise their body temperature to dangerous levels. Killian starts the film as a relatively minor character but gets more and more important as the film goes on. Unfortunately, the character isn’t nearly as interesting as the Mandarin, which when you see where the plot goes, makes the film all the weaker. It’s also not 100% clear as to Killian’s motives, which can make it a little confusing as to the actual point of the whole film.

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There are various other smaller story arcs going on throughout the film, some of which are significantly more successful than others. Stark’s beau Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) gets a much more developed role and the introduction of a kid sidekick for Stark is nowhere near as annoying as it could have been. There is also a rather malnourished side plot revolving around the Vice President and his daughter which could have been pretty interesting had it been fleshed out a little more.

Iron Man 3 may be a little shallow but it’s also a lot of fun. Tonally it sits somewhere between the lighthearted feel of The Avengers and the grittier world of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy but it’s difficult to say it can be held in as high regard as either. However, should this the last in the Iron Man franchise, which it could well be, it’s still a decent note to go out on.

3 and a half pigeons

3.5/5 pigeons

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Guest Post: Star Wars Goes Disney

“Star Wars” fans freaked out when news broke that Disney bought Lucasfilm for an estimated 4.5 billion dollars. On top of that, fans rejoiced that there are new “Star Wars” films expected to be released in the near future.

George Lucas, former Lucasfilms owner, said he wanted to give his company a “larger entity that would protect it.” Let’s take a look at some reasons that makes this Disney buyout of the “Star Wars” franchise good news.

Protecting the Lucasfilm brand — Like Lucas said, Disney can act as a protective shield for Lucasfilm. Take the last prequels as an example; the prequels were dissatisfying to many fans. According to these sites, the prequels lost the magic and fun that the originals had. Because of this, some fans might feel that Disney might put “Star Wars” in an even worse shape. At the very least, Disney could inject some new life into the films. Take a potential story about Darth Vader, for instance. If Disney can create a villain like Scar from “The Lion King,” who killed his own brother for power, they also have the ability to create a great story about the most villainous guy in the universe.

New Fans — By partnering with Disney, “Star Wars” could reach new fans. For instance, younger audiences who haven’t been introduced to “Star Wars” by their parents might soon be able to turn to The Disney Channel to see “Star Wars”-themed shows, like “The Clone Wars,” which ScreenRant reports will be moving to The Disney Channel from Cartoon Network.  If Disney wanted to, they could even go further and create educational cartoons based around the “Star Wars” universe. There could be television shows for teenage audiences and cartoon crossovers, similar to the upcoming “Phineas and Ferb”/Marvel crossover “Phineas and Ferb: Mission Marvel.” It also wouldn’t be surprising if Disney decided to create some “Star Wars” animated shorts to play before future feature films.

 New Merchandise — Disney and Lucasfilm are two companies that are masters at merchandising, and together, they’ll be able to create even more opportunities. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Disney Stores soon flooded with Mickey Mouse figurines in Jedi clothes, or special editions of Padme dolls (sold with her Queen Amidala and senatorial outfits and accessories), or even “Star Wars” play sets.

New Parks — Disney has been working on regaining ground after The Wizarding World of Harry Potter became serious competition. By acquiring Lucasfilm properties, Disney can not only expand on their “Star Wars” themed experiences at their Florida and California theme parks and create a whole “Star Wars” immersive park, but they can also create parks based on other Lucasfilm properties, like “Indiana Jones.”

Jedi-worthy stories — Disney has already proven they can handle complex storylines, but with some fans, the company had to prove itself again when they acquired Marvel. After the release of “Marvel’s The Avengers,” worried fans realized their favorite superheroes weren’t in any danger of being “Disneyfied.” Now, some fans are worried again about the future success of “Star Wars.” Disney might be in the process of telling new “Star Wars” stories, but more than likely, there’s no need to worry about a “Star Wars” animated musical coming anytime soon.

What do you think about Lucasfilm’s deal with Disney?

About the Author:  Lisa is a content writer for Satellite TV.com, and has a weekly column at StarPulse.  When she isn’t working, she is catching up on her favorite TV shows and films with her new husband. A massive thanks to Lisa for getting in touch and sending this over. It’s always great to feature other people’s stuff on the site, so if you’d like anything published, just give me a yell.

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