Thursday, March 27, 2014

"Captain America: The Winter Soldier" REVIEW

The Review

So, you want a Marvel movie with a star studded cast, a promising story, but in a lazy-written script filled with impractical and out of placed comedy and grand, but dumb action? Well if you want Iron Man in it go check out Regular Man a.k.a. Iron Man 3. But if you're looking for those things in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, then you're looking at the wrong movie. Except for the first part though, this film has a star-studded cast, but we'll get into that latter.

The movie is a plot heavy joyride, filled with conspiracies, conflict within the organization S.H.I.E.L.D. and Steve Rogers, played by Chris Evans, stands in between the conflict. Steve Rogers, who still is trying to figure out his place in this world, must act on this war even when things get a little more personal on his side. The synopsis is a little complicated to tell, as there are many things that is happening in this film, and you surely don't want to miss any of those. The action in this movie... is PERFECT. It's not just any other superhero movie action sequences, they are more than that. It's like the action sequences is a love child of everything awesome and cool about the fight sequences from the 007 movies and Bourne movies. Its griity, grand, epic and over-the-top and everyone will love it. Just like the very movie itself, it doesn't entirely feel like a superhero flick, it also feels like a political thriller, which in some ways it is. 

As far as cast and acting, PERFECT as well. Chris Evans just out did his own performances from The First Avenger and The Avengers and has made his best performance as Steve Rogers/Captain America yet. When not in action, he's really nice, cool and very well mannered as well (kids, don't put your feet on top of the dash) and very sensitive and dramatic as well, as how one particular character puts it. But when he's on the action, he's ON the action. He is the Anti-Terminator in a star-spangled outfit, he is unstoppable with or without the shield. By the way, that shield, boy it is brutal. Have you played as Captain America in Marvel vs. Capcom games? yep, that kind of brutal. He's still THE star-spangled man with a plan, and he gets better in time (or as the movie progresses). No matter if he's on the field of battle or his on the field of his apartment, he's a very like-able and relate-able character. Because honestly, everyone is a little lost on the inside. Also, there is a lot of Easter eggs here, let's see how many did you catch. 

The other cast members did an excellent job as well. Robert Redford as Alexander Pierce, who did a pretty good job as the senior head of S.H.I.E.L.D. Comic book fans and/or even ordinary movie goers might like where this movie is taking his character. Scarlett Johansson is still a fine Black Canary, it doesn't matter if you think someone could pull off the better than her before, what matters is that she owns as Black Widow. The latest addition, Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson/Falcon also did a great job in his role. He's the lesser Captain America, he's a hero, but he's no super soldier, and his bonding with Steve Rogers just makes both characters more human, especially when they both discuss about getting back into the world.  

So far, I only have VERY few gripes about this film. One is that I don't get to hear that score from The First Avenger by Alan Silvestri. Well, we get to hear a small portion of it at the beginning of the film, but it's pretty much understandable why they did a new score for this film because tonal wise, this movie is a little more aggressive and gritty and that cheesy 1940s influenced theme just won't fit. 

Before we move on to my other gripe, here's an aspect of the film that I couldn't find anywhere in it, the comedy. Yes, there is humor but surprisingly no dumb and out of place comedy in it. I am not sure if there is no joke, there is a joke only that it's not funny enough, or it is funny only that I'm just too focused on the bigger picture. I'm just sayin'. 

My other gripe is none other than the Winter Soldier himself. First, his character is a badass, he is the Terminator of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it is just impossible to take down this dude. He didn't get you with a grenade launcher, he will just stab you instead. If you get in his way, don't bother running, you're already dead. But because of that, he feels more of a plot device than an actual character. It might be understandable for the kind of situation he's in, but there was very little time to establish him as still a human being with all of this shenanigans going on. Even then, the limited time span made the confrontations between him and Captain America restricted, even if it looks like they're just going to kill each other eventually, it feels like they could do more with some emotional gravitas as they go down the big revelation. It's not like you didn't see it coming anyway, thanks trailers (sarcasm).  

Final Verdict

So let me ask you again, do you still want a Marvel movie with  a promising story, but in a lazy-written script filled with impractical and out of placed comedy and grand, but dumb action? If you still do, then go see Iron Man 3, if you don't then good for you, 'cause now we have Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Not only this movie surpasses its predecessor in every aspect, but also every other Disney/Marvel flick out there. Yes, I think this movie is better than The Avengers, there I said it. Why? Because this movie proves that you don't have to be a superhero ensemble flick to be the better Marvel film. You just got to have a really great source material, add in an original and superb story to it, fill it with the right characters and you will have an action packed superhero/political thriller film with a story and action that will blow your mind. This is definitely the Marvel solo flick that deserves a billion dollar mark and a recognition as one of the best Marvel movies or CBM ever. This is the game changer of MCU Phase 2 and the best of the series as well, let's see Guardians Of The Galaxy and Avengers: Age of Ultron top that. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

"Captain America: The First Avenger" - LATE MOVIE REVIEW

The Review

If you're going to make movies for several Marvel characters which will eventually have (almost) all of the most recognizable characters team up in the very first superhero ensemble flick, it's only practical you make a movie about the leader of the group itself, Captain America. Growing up seeing re-runs of the 60's cartoon back at the early late 90's and early 2000's when it still a routine for small kids to catch Saturday morning cartoons. Until you started reading Captain America comics as a teenager, you really have no idea who Captain America is and what it's like to be a part of his universe. Consider this film an introductory of the character to the wider audience who's lazy enough to even pick up a comic book. Because knows heaven we shall never speak of the 90's disaster movie which stared what's-his-face-again as the titular character, it's best dive into this film instead. 

We start off with Steve Rogers, played by Chris Evans, a young man with a purest heart of gold who wanted to give his life to serve his country during the heat of World War II. The only problem is, Steve is tiny stick even thinner than a regular BBQ stick, you might feel pity to skim through his medical record. But then a government doctor, Dr. Albert Erskine, played by Stanley Tucci, has offered Steve a chance to serve the military, as long as he volunteers to undergo an experiment which would give him peak physical strength, speed, agility and a chance to look more like Chris Evans in his best days and less like Christian Bale from The Machinist. Now the man named Captain America has emerged. America's walking flag sent to every dangerous missions of the war wielding a powerful vibranium steel shield that gives the sport Frisbee and whole new name. With new found abilities, a superhero status, Steve Roger's wishes has been fulfilled, but his life will never be the same. 

Reading that, the movie itself sounded patriotic and inspiring, which at times it is. The movie itself has a very fun story to tell. The World War II setting sets it apart from the previous Marvel movies at that time. But if you're looking forward to a war movie with comic book characters in it, you have another thing coming. The movie by any means, is a treasure hunt film, much like the Indiana Jones movies. One of the key plots is the Tesseract, a (or the) Cosmic Cube, which is being used by Nazi's science division, H.Y.D.R.A. under the leader ship of the film's main antagonist, The Red Skull, played by Hugo Weaving. When our characters start fighting over the possession of the Cosmic Cube, the film itself steps away from the usual war film formula, as if these certain events takes place behind the public's eye. People knew who Captain America is, but they kinda didn't knew what he does. The action scenes are grand and epic in its scale, but damn are they cheesy. Captain America infiltrates a H.Y.D.R.A. prison and sets free and mob of US soldiers held captive without being spotted while doing so? That's something. The film has some crazy ups and downs when it comes to tonal variation that should have been done really well if not for the writing that wasn't thought through, it's kind of a bummer to be honest. 

The film itself has a pretty interesting cast. Chris Evans did a good job playing both Steve Rogers before his transformation and Steve Rogers as Captain America. You are fully convinced of his performance as a small New Yorker who doesn't want to get his new found status into his head and a character who wants to keep his pure heart until the end his days. But even with star studded cast, somehow no one really stood out to me other than Evans himself, though he didn't really steal the movie. Doesn't mean the film had bad acting though, I'm just saying.

The score composed by Alan Silvestri fits perfectly for the tone of this film, it's not Hans Zimmer/John Williams/Danny Elfman' level by any means, but still pretty epic and patriotic. The special effects are passable, but the set pieces are very astonishing. The editing, my gosh, the editing though, is friggin' lazy. Who edited this film? Looks like someone didn't bother to have a second look. 

The Final Veridct

The concept of Captain America himself is patriotic, heroic, epic and super cheesy. But Captain America: The First Avengers wears them like the titular character's armor and shield that not only made him look silly, but also iconic. Even if it's lacking, this is the Marvel movie that has a pure heart in it, like its titular character.

"Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher" - MOVIE REVIEW


Punisher is taken into S.H.I.E.L.D. custody after interfering in a top secret mission. In exchange for release, Punisher and the Black Widow are teamed up to take down the terrorist arm dealing organization Leviathan who plan to auction stolen S.H.I.E.L.D. technology

The Review

Truth be told fans everywhere don't have much faith when it comes to Marvel's animation department. Their collaboration with famed Japanese animation studio Madhouse is no exception.  So far, this collaboration has released four TV anime series under the label "Marvel Anime" which includes Iron Man, Wolverine, X-Men and Blade, all received with mixed reviews. Their first direct-to-video release however, Iron Man: Rise of Technovore, didn't have that much praise, with most criticism focuses on it's dull-written script, dumb dialogues and the fact that it's dragging in time which makes the audience TechnoBORED (get it, no?). The question still remains; are these projects made for Anime fans or Marvel fans? Hopefully Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher could give us an answer, if not, THE answer. 

The biggest praise anyone could probably give this film is its animation style. Even if you still prefer western animation, the famed anime style fits perfectly for this action-packed adventure. With its fluid animation and  spectacular character and setting designs, you can just simply look past the fact that some characters make a few weird facial expressions on a few occasions and marvel at the ink and colors that fills up the screen.

The film has a pretty interesting voice cast; Jennifer Carpenter (Dexter) as Black Widow and Brian Bloom (The A-Team, Justice League: Crisis On Two Earths) as Punisher, did a pretty good job on their respective roles, but in movies like this voice casting don't stand out that much. 

The movie itself has a solid intro, putting both title characters upfront and gives them chance to shine with only just the first 8 minutes of the film. That bad-assery goes on as the movie progresses, it's a toss coin when it comes to the question of who is the better lead and that's a good thing. However, the film went unconventionally slow as it goes from point A to point B. Certain plot elements are being shoved up to are throats to death, just to keep you reminded on how they are relevant to the situation at hand. We are also introduced to some characters who was just there for the sake of either having a comic relief character or just simply to have a time-killer scene. The first few action sequences are top-notch gritty and entertaining though I do see a pretty obvious changes, the subsequent fights scenes just gets cheesier, and cheesier than ever.The Punisher shoots someone in cold blood, and that blood glowed neon red. Yes, it glowed neon red. Not only that, The Avengers came down to the scene (at the climax) along with neon light-trails as if they were teleported like Power Rangers or something. 

Final Verdict

Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher is probably the most fun and entertaining Marvel animated movie in a long time. It's action packed, the lead characters owned the show like they should, it gets cheesy at times and gets slow in between but it has a pretty entertaining story and a well written script. It's definitely a film that is made to satisfy both Anime fans and Marvel fans. Here's hoping for a better future installment for Marvel Anime

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