Posts Tagged ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier – movie review’

Over the last couple of days I watched a couple of movies and read a book.  In order, the two movies were:  “Captain America: The Winter Soldier“, “Transformers: Age Of Extinction“, and the book was:  “Casca: The Eternal Mercenary #1” (1979©).
It’s been a year since my first review of CA:TWS (see original review here).  Well, I picked up the DVD and thought I’d take another look.  My initial review is still pretty much spot on…  This is a look at the darker side of technology as used by today’s governments to try to “maintain” security and “protect” the people.  It is also a general statement about the need to minimize secret organizations – even when they purport to be providing security and protection, as it is far too easy for them to fall into the wrong hands.  Final recommendation:  still highly recommended!
The second movie T4:AoE also came out in 2014 and stars Mark Wahlberg as Cade Yeager (a more-or-less unemployed robotics expert and single parent living in Texas and, of course, trying to mind his own business), Nicola Peltz as Tessa Yeager (Cade’s daughter, who when threatened, becomes daddy’s reason to get even with the bad-guys), Stanley Tucci as Joshua Joyce (a billionaire corporatist who thinks a lot of himself and yells a lot at his minions), Kelsey Grammer as Harold Attinger (the CIA bad-guy and front for the evil transformers), Jack Reynor as Shane Dyson (the daughter’s boyfriend and a race car driver).
This is a movie with lots of sound effect (explosions) and special effects (mostly computer generated transformers but also explosions), who’s main purpose seems to be to move away from the main human characters of the three previous movies and create a new thread for the franchise to follow.  Fair enough, but is the movie any good?  Within the strict paradigm of an action movie (large robots fighting, car chases, and multiple explosions) – yes, it does.  Quite well, in fact.  If you are looking for simple-minded entertainment (please don’t even try to think about the plot), this is a high quality production which delivers action and explosions.  My one “real” fault with the movie is it is loonnggg – 2 hours and 45 minutes – and actually seems longer.  I don’t usually say that about “action” movies, but this felt too long.
Final recommendation:  moderate to strong recommendation.  If you’re into the Transformer movies (and I am), you’ll enjoy this addition.  If you believe this is just another movie to market toys to youth, well, yeah, it’s that too.
The book – Casca: TEM#1, is the first in an ongoing series of books about a fictional / mythical character – based on the Roman Legionnaire who put the lance in Jesus Christ’s side.  There are 42 books in the series so far.  In this first book, Jesus looks down at Casca and says:  “You are content with what you are.  Then that you shall remain until we meet again.”  Henceforth, Casca is cursed to live forever – or at least until the second coming.  Each book in the series is about a segment of his 2,000 years (so far).  The series was initially written by Barry Sadler of “Ballad of the Green Berets” fame.  I have the first 22 volumes in the series.  These are the ones written by Sadler (or at least ghost written for him with his name on the book).  I have not read any of the subsequent volumes.  This volume covers most of his first two centuries of life – Roman rule times.
The books are adult, historical fantasy / fiction.  The main character is Casca Rufio Longinus and is loosely based on the Christian legend Saint Longinus.  Being Catholic and knowing a little (very little) about the Spear of Destiny, I picked the book up and thought I’d have a laugh.  I was very pleasantly surprised that it completely captivated me.  In fact, I’ve read the book several times, about once a decade, since I purchased it back in the early 1980’s.  I’ve also re-read a few of the other volumes, but they never seemed to capture me the same way this initial book did.
Final recommendation:  Highly recommended book (and series).  If you enjoy historically based fiction about combat / war, this is a very good book / series.  Caution:  it can be graphic in the depiction of violence so this is not appropriate for youth – probably up to late teens.
On This Day In:
2014 True, Vibrant And Open
2013 Remembering, Yet Again
2012 Something Of Value
2011 Sleep All Day

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At the start of the month, I went to see “Captain America: The Winter Soldier“, starring Chris Evans (Steve Rogers / Captain America), Scarlett Johansson (Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow), Sebastian Stan (Bucky Barnes / The Winter Soldier), Anthony Mackie (Sam Wilson / the Falcon), and Samuel Jackson (Nick Fury).  This is the sequel to the 2011 film, “Captain America: The First Avenger“, also starring Chris Evans in the title role.
If you’ve been following this blog for any reasonable length of time, you know by now that I was a big comic book reader while growing up and am now a big comic book-movie follower (and buyer), so I admit to a certain amount of bias in my reviews of this genre of movie.  Having said that, this is definitely one of the best of all the comic book based movies ever made.  Although lacking some of the originality of the first movie, this sequel more than makes up for it with a much deeper storyline / plot while maintaining its roots as an action movie (lots of fights and explosions).
The sub-textual plot is what does a “good man” do when faced with a world of gray shadows and it’s hard to tell if what you’re doing is “right” (morally).  Well, if you’re Captain America, you stand with your friends to bring truth out into the light.
The main plot is the fight between good and evil where the “good” is represented by SHIELD – an agency supposedly dedicated to preserving peace and freedom, and Hydra – the “bad” organization, dedicated to the subjugation of the common man for the benefits of the few who are holding power.  SHIELD has been infiltrated by Hydra and just as Hydra is about to initiate their ultimate “security” weapon, all heck breaks out (in the form of Cap and his friends).
As this is fairly early in the movie’s release cycle, I won’t give away too many spoilers.  All I can say is that you have to set aside your old notions of Cap as a suped-up normal person.  This movie version of Captain America is far more “super” than “normal”.  But if you can set aside common sense about things like – oh, gravity and the effects of sudden stops on the human body, for example – just for a couple of hours, this is a very entertaining film.
One of the things I particularly liked about this film was the subdued patriotism in favor of moral values.  In other words, it is less “my country, right or wrong” and more “this isn’t freedom, this is fear” symbolism.  This is visually captured by Cap’s change from a black and silver / grey uniform at the start of the movie to his traditional red-white-and-blue uniform for the final third of the movie.  In essence, he takes off the “fear” and returns to the inspiration of “freedom” as the justification for his heroic actions.
Final recommendation:  highly recommended!!  This movie works on many levels – action / adventure, sci-fi, political intrigue, and, of course, comic book heroism.  (And let’s not forget to say as a lead-in / promo for future Marvel comic book / movies.)  I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and look forward to seeing it come out on DVD.  Heck, I may even go see it again at the theater.  Now, I can’t wait for SpiderMan and Avengers 2!!
By the way, I went to see this movie with my son James, who is also a big comic book and comic-movie fan.  I treated him for his birthday.
On This Day In:
2013 Remembering Val
2012 Good-bye, Val
Survival Value
2011 Traitors In Our Midst
Life Ain’t Easy

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