Tag Archives: Chris Evans

“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” (2014) – Review

CaptainAmerica-FA

Writers:  Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely

Directors:  Anthony & Joe Russo

Stars:  Chris Evans, Sebastian Stan, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Anthony Mackie, and Robert Redford

IMDb Log Line:  Steve Rogers struggles to embrace his role in the modern world and battles a new threat from old history:  the Soviet agent known as the Winter Soldier.

Pros:

  1. Topical story that does not beat you over the head with morality  but makes you think.
  2. Human scale to the conflict
  3. Chemistry between the cast
  4. Great Ed Brubaker source material

Cons:  

  1. When you actually think about the end goal of the enemies plan, after their initial surprise attack they can be easily defeated with conventional forces.

Review:  A surprisingly emotional sequel that supersedes the original, and does not suffer any of the sophomore slump of the other Marvel Studio second franchise films.  Captain America:  The Winter Soldier is their best effort to date delivering emotion, character development, good story telling, and action you can follow and not be overwhelmed with; all while maintaining respect to the source material.  The greatest feat by the filmmakers is establishing the emotional connection between Steve Rogers and the Winter Soldier in only one film, where the comics had literal decades of history to work with.

Grade = A-

Click on image to view trailer.

Click on image to view trailer.

 

*  Thanks to “filmhipster” for the new style of my reviews.  My free time for my blog has been much reduced, and the length of my previous reviews hindered my abilities to keep-up with my movie watching.  All that being said, I decided to adapt this short form “Consumer Reports” type of review to get back on track.


“The Avengers” (2012) – Movie Review

Click on image to view trailer

Director:  Joss Whedon

Writers:  Joss Whedon and Zak Penn

Stars:  Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, Clark Gregg, Stellan Skarsgard, and Tom Hiddleston

S.H.I.E.L.D., an international counter-espionage organization headed by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), plans to harness the power of the Tesseract (Cosmic Cube).  But before they can discover its secrets, the Tesseract is activated by an outside force and brings Loki (Tom Hiddleston) from another dimension.  Though weakened by the travel, Loki is able to brainwash Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) & Prof. Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard), steal the Tesseract, and destroy the S.H.I.E.L.D. base.

Faced with the clear & present danger of Loki, Fury begins to assemble The Avengers:  Capt. America/Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.), and Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson).  In short order Loki is willingly captured, the Black Widow brings in Bruce Banner/The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) comes from Asgard.  Though The Avengers are assembled, they are not a team.  Before long Loki has exploited their clashing egos to his advantage:  The Hulk is unleashed, S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Helicarrier disabled, and his plan to unleash an extraterrestrial attack on Earth unleashed.

To say The Avengers is packed with action is an understatement, but to say it has life is a different story.  Though Joss Whedon does an excellent job in showcasing each character, you do not emotionally connect with anyone.  I was ambivalent about the characters and the story until the Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) scene; after which I was emotionally invested in the team’s coalescence.  Watching each hero assume their role in thwarting Loki’s plan was a delight.

Joss Whedon did an overall good job bringing the film to life.  What prevented it from being great was the sometimes slapstick approach to some of the Hulk’s actions:  such as with Loki near the end of the film and with Thor after a joint fight against the aliens.  Also, though much better, the final alien attack on New York was basically the same as in Transformers 3.  Where Whedon did an excellent job was in juggling all the characters.

Though none of the actors will be nominated for an Academy Award, all are comfortable in their roles.  Chris Evans and Robert Downey, Jr. bicker with each other convincingly as two people with very different codes of conduct and motivations.  Both later gain respect for each other as brothers-in-arms.  Chris Hemsworth picks-up where he left off with character development from Thor.  As the new kids on the block Jeremy Renner and Scarlett Johansson do solid jobs; Johansson fortunate enough to be given a bit of back story to develop as opposed to Renner who was one-dimensional.  Samuel L. Jackson is given the job of walking around like a badass and does so.  And Tom Hiddleston?  He delivers as the heavy.  You understand his motivations, feel his menace, but also see his vulnerability.

Then there is Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson.  Upon his performance stands the emotional weight of the movie.  Without him all we have is a tale, “full of sound and fury signifying nothing.”  With him we have a reason to watch it again and again.

Grade = B


“Captain America” – Review

Click on image to view trailer

 

Director:  Joe Johnston
 
Writers:  Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely, Two Others
 
Stars:  Chris Evans, Hugo Weaving, Tommy Lee Jones, Hayley Atwell
 
I really enjoyed Captain America.  It’s a good superhero, popcorn, and summer movie.  It is also very reminiscent of Raiders of the Lost Ark, which they reference when Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving) mentions that the Furor is looking for trinkets in the desert.  Part of the fun of watching this film was catching all the references:  the Wilhelm scream, the speeder bikes from Return of the Jedi sound effects during the motorcycle chase in the jungle, and others.
 
The story is straightforward and does a good job of helping you identify with Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), aka Captain America.  The scenes in the beginning of the film when he is a ninety-eight pound weakling are surprisingly effective.  If you are familiar with the comics, then you’ll recognize the origin story is fairly accurate, with some add-ons from the pre-Samuel L. Jackson influenced Nick Fury character.  You also feel for the character when he realizes that he is wasting his potential on the USO tour to promote war-bonds instead of fighting the enemy.  Chris Evans is decent; Tommy Lee Jones steals every scene he is in;  and both Hugo Weaving and Hayley Atwell are really good.  Credit must also be given to the writers for how the movie begins; the Titanic style present-day shots caught me by surprise.  The direction was good, and the look of the film was great.  Though I will say that I do not like it when cutting-edge technology of the past looks a little too similar to cutting-edge technology of today–the pod in which the Captain is created and the controls of the enemy flying wing, for example.  But those are minor quibbles.  This is a good movie for the whole family on a Saturday afternoon.
 
Grade:  B
 
P.S.  Captain America tangent:  though I only purchased a few issues of Captain America when I actively read and collected comics, for some reason the character resonates with me.  It really affected me a few years ago when Marvel killed the character at the end of their Civil War story line.  I also like how they depict him in the Ultimates Universe.  I don’t know.  Maybe it’s a yearning for a simpler more good vs. evil time that he represents, but I really like the Captain America character.  I’m happy the filmmakers did a good job with this film, and we will see him again in the upcoming Avengers movie.    Thank you for giving Cap his due.