Marvel is clearly shifting its gears to make each installment of its superhero fare darker, grittier and even contemporary. After the mediocrity of Captain America: First Avenger, our 95 year old super soldier must now face several challenges and rise as a truly capable hero whose superpower isn't just his shield but his dedication to good and of course, his enhanced physical prowess. Television directors Joe and Anthony Russo (Arrested Development, Community) bring a lot more action, cheekiness and character depth to convert even the Marvel fan into its worshipper. We see a lot more of our beloved characters through various challenges that unfold in seamless commonality with profound implications on the future. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is easily the studio's biggest production second only to The Avengers with an elaborate plot that connects the Cap's WWII history, today's security issues and a subtle lead up to the next Avengers.
Two years since the battle of New York, a nostalgic Steve Rogers looks back at his regrets and losses and at the same time, makes sincere attempts to catch up with American pop-culture of the past decades that he has missed. Now, as Captain America, his mission is to free hostages aboard a S.H.I.E.L.D vessel from pirates along with the very attractive and capable Natasha Romanoff [Black Widow] who retrieves secretive data onto a flash drive as the Cap battled the mercenaries on deck. Upon their return to the Triskelion, director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) introduces the Cap to 'Project Insight', the agency's big public surveillance plan which involves fully weaponized Helicarriers that can preemptively eliminate threats while they monitor every human on the planet. But Fury's inability to decrypt the retrieved drive makes him suspicious of the project's real intent. After evading an engaging assault on him involving a car chase, Fury is shot by a new mercenary from whose clutches he had narrowly escaped. In his last minutes, the director had warned Captain to not trust anyone in S.H.I.E.L.D. After an immediate pursuit of the assailant, Cap loses track of this ghostly villain whom Natasha knows as The Winter Soldier. Scientifically enhanced powers enable him to match Cap's abilities and his true identity will draw demons out of Cap's past.
Unable to cooperate with S.H.I.E.L.D., Cap is now branded a fugitive by Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford) and is being hunted by the very agency that revived him. But an even bigger threat for the Cap is the level at which S.H.I.E.L.D has been compromised with a terror organization that he knows only too well. Thus, the Project Insight now has devastating implications in the wrong hands and Cap will need the help from agent Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) and Falcon (Anthony Mackie) to prevent the Helicarriers from taking flight and targeting millions of innocent lives.
The lines of good and evil that the Captain once knew are now blurry and will soon disappear completely. In all this, the action is a combination of raw force from our hero, who uses his exceptional physical capability and fluid choreography, that enhances the effect by making it realistic. Action merely supports the elaborate storyline and not the other way around. Every sub-plot has a thrilling action sequence starting with the hostage rescue, Fury's furious car chase, the heroic combat in the Triskelion elevator, Falcon's aerial dog fight against S.H.I.E.L.D machinery and the epic explosions along the Potomac river.
The 'Cobra' type infiltration is delightfully evil within the agency and its connectivity even impacts the 'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'
All the excitement and intrigue can be attributed to the exemplary screenplay by Christopher Marcus and Stephen McFeely who co-wrote the Narnia movies and more recently, 'Thor: The Dark World'. The story behaves as a grown-up political conspiracy thriller and also lends suspense, twists and character insights that make the Marvel world even more interesting. Chris Evans overcomes any shortfall and showcases better physical might to prove that he is more than a shield. He has convincingly established himself as the most capable leader of the Avengers with this installment. The stunning Scarlett Johansson gets more screen time than all her Black Widow appearances put together. Her cheekiness is well balanced with her serious kick-ass ability to fight and she establishes herself as a worthy Avenger.
Samuel L. Jackson too enjoys more screen time and has some fun action sequences as well. Robert Redford plays the wrong man in the top league brilliantly while Anthony Mackie as Falcon proves to be the Cap's comic aide who can stand his ground when needed. The gorgeous Cobie Smulders gets elevated in the ranks of what remains in S.H.I.E.L.D and we sure hope to see more of her in future Marvel films. Stan Lee's cameo is hilarious.
The Russo brothers have adroitly pulled off an ambitious project that will propel the Captain America franchise to the successes of Ironman and Thor. Chris Evans has proven that he is a capable superhero and with such a contemporary take on infiltration by evil forces, he can leave the battling of Asgardian forces and comic book villains to his fellow Avengers. This soldier will not let decision makers trade in freedom for security and it is this righteous principle that makes him a super soldier. He is more than the serum that made him. He is more than his invincible shield. He is now more than just an Avenger.
- 9.223 on a scale of 1-10.
He Got Game is a movie that people from all walks of life can learn to appreciate. Especially now-a-days with many athletes in the NBA coming straight out of high school, Spike Lee offers a look at the other side of this life. He Got Game is a handsomely constructed film that delves into the role that basketball plays in the relationship between an incarcerated father and his estranged son. I particularly impressed with Lee’s use of comparative shots that show us similarities between father and son. Jesus tries his hardest to distance himself from his father Jake, but we see that they are almost identically alike in a number of ways. This film is a must-see for any basketball fan.
The world's most successful racing video game that let players ride in the most desirable cars was the obvious choice for a movie franchise that could fill the gap between two Fast and Furious movies. While there isn't much that one can do about a storyline when it comes to pure adrenaline pumping street racing in fancy cars, George and John Gatins try and make the most out of a generic revenge plot. Directed by Scott Waugh (XXX, Act of Valor), 'Need for Speed' features some jaw dropping stunt sequences and credible action that are attributed to his decision to use less CGI and more actual stunt work with the mean machines. The most rewarding aspect of watching NFS on the big screen is that these super-cars are driven at manic speeds almost all the time.
Tobey (Aaron Paul) is now out of prison and is keen on seeking revenge for his wrongful incarceration and his friend's death that was actually caused by the rich kid Dino (Dominic Cooper). Two years ago, his family's failing garage operation had to be salvaged with a job to build Carroll Shelby's incomplete prototype of the 5oth anniversary special 2012 Ford Mustang. Dino had acquired this car and was offered to sell it to a British buyer who would only buy it if it could touch 235 mph. Tobey pushed the car to that record speed on a track and won a part of the proceeds. However, the conniving Dino challenges Tobey and his protege Pete to a winner-takes-all race in identical street illegal Swedish Koenigsegg supercars. Towards the end of an exhilarating road rash at incredible speeds, Tobey deliberately brakes before Pete's car, to send him airborne over a bridge and down into an inferno of death. In a sinister move, he leaves the scene and covers up the trace of his red Koenigsegg, resulting in the wrongful arrest of Tobey.
He now plans on beating Dino in the secretive De Leon race in California that is organized by the internet's mysterious commentator Monarch (Michael Keaton). For that, he asks the Brit buyer for his Mustang with the lure of prize money and accompanied by Julia (Imogen Poots), he sets off for a super fast cross country drive to San Francisco from the East Coast. The perilous journey turns out to be a chase by cops and goons who are enticed by Dino's declaration of a bounty on the Mustang. Benny (Scott Mescudi) may occasionally rescue our hero via borrowed planes and helicopters but it is in San Francisco, that Tobey suffers a big blow. His ex-girlfriend who is now Dino's girl, learns the truth about her evil lover and helps Tobey find a new ride for the De Leon race, which turns out to be the missing Red Koenigsegg.
The climax is a revenge-driven race through Mendocino that lives up to the NFS legend of high octane action at astounding speeds.
As this story unfolds, the audience is frequently thrilled by chase sequences and stunts on the cross-country drive. Waugh does not forget what the audience has paid to watch and with minimal CGI, he makes the stunts as realistic as possible to give a jaw dropping effect. Combine that with the sheer speed at which the actors race in these super-cars and you have a winning combination for a joyous time in theaters.
The astounding scenes include the drag race through Mount Kisco's streets, the police chase through Detroit and the insane jump over the highway, the Apache helicopter rescue over Utah's gorges, the high speed driving against traffic which makes one's insides stir, the high speed refueling while driving and the frantic racing in Mendocino with some of the fastest cars around.
However, the most spectacular stunt work and action piece is the red car's horrific accident as it launches in air, hits a pole with ferocity and descends from the bridge into the fiery ball.
Aaron Paul of 'Breaking Bad' fame is suitable both as a revenge-driven racer and a fun companion to ride cross-country with. Imogen Poots is the iconic girlfriend one would want (she can drive like a racer and is British). Scott Mescudi is funny whenever he's flying around and checking out unrelated objects when he needs to look out for traffic. Rami Malek as the talented designer in the team is hilarious in his departure from a worldly job while Michael Keaton plays a very excited commentator for whom this race is life-changing. Dominic Cooper plays the sinister villain who is always resourceful with his bag of dirty tricks but he leaves a bit to be desired as Paul's acting nemesis.
Need for Speed is certainly an exhilarating time at the movies and Scott Waugh has brilliantly portrayed the high-speed racing and stunt sequences. Although the NFS franchise will not rival the sheer entertainment in the Fast & Furious series, it can surely work as an ideal filler between its two parts. If you've played the games since childhood, it really is an adrenaline rush to watch the super-cars burn rubber in excess of 100mph.
- 7.303 on a scale of 1-10.
This is a true story about how Jordan Belfort started out on Wall Street and how he rose to the top via his criminal activity and got away with it. The two huge negatives about this film are its length, way too long, and its raunchiness, borderline pornography. But that is what Hollywood does for a living nowadays so I tried to put it aside long enough to enjoy the movie.
Jordan starts out extra righteous as the new kid on the block but gets quickly corrupted as he seeks to get rich. He quickly throws out all of the rules to only focus on himself. This works for a while and he never really ends up paying for his crimes. What made the movie interesting for me was the fact that it is a true story. Otherwise it would be a waste.
The ups and downs of his criminal journey are somewhat crazy. All the while I am hoping for this guy to get locked up for life and it just never happened. If you get offended by nudity in movies you better take a pass on this one. Otherwise it’s not too bad entertainment wise.
What I do find hilarious though is how many Oscars this movie was nominated for. Simply amazing how they glorify such garbage. There were zero areas for award giving in this flick.
Yep! I will not give a dollar of my hard earned cash to this apparent travesty of the Bible. I feel very strange doing this, but due to the incredible plethora of reviews and criticisms of this big budget bust, I feel strangely comfortable doing this.
Ancient environmentalism? No mention of the word God? Noah threatening to kill his family due to human population considerations? WTF??? These various criticism were not solitary but rather ubiquitous. Nope! Not a dollar goes to these irresponsible libtard agnostic, politically correct, multicultural environmentally religious Hollywood film brainwashing indoctrinators.
Seldom is a movie better than expected. Spiderman 1 & 2 or Ironman1 were iconic treats. Captain America Winter Soldier comes real close. I viewed the 3D version which was simply spectacular. Captain America had his hands full in modern day America. S.H.I.E.L.D was infiltrated and his best childhood friend turns out to be another super-soldier only evil. CG especially in 3D was simply breathtaking. The story had depth mainly because it delved nicely but not too intellectually into the nature of freedom and govt control of said freedom. Characters were well defined and action was plentiful. I was thrilled by this wonderful little epic.
This film, shot with a subdued and dark graininess, is a story about the simplest of all people with the simplest of all dreams — get some quick money, pay off the immediate debts and return to life as if none of it ever happened. That, to them, is all there is to life. Details are trivial matters that distract other people. It’s a story line that is, at times, hard to watch. Tommy and Rosie are so dense and so oblivious to the most obvious realities that it challenges our own will to believe anyone could possibly be so stupid. The woodwork in their meager apartment could likely outwit the pair. For all their ingrained limitations, their naive aspirations somehow manage to work out just as they envisioned, at least for a little while.
Read the full review at http://slashcomment.com/entertainment/rob-the-mob/
With hopes of a big celebration, Rani's preparations involve the London thumka and a complete emotional and mental surrender to the dream of an ideal wedding. Her world is shattered by her fiance who chickened out of the wedding on grounds that Rani didn't evolve to his now foreign lifestyle. The distraught and heart-broken Rani comes out from a brief self imprisonment to her concerned family and seeks permission to escape to Europe on her own for a solitary honeymoon and to find solace from the anguish.
The Hungama begins in Paris as she struggles independently in a foreign land. The despondent Rani who cannot cross the street, order normal food or even find peace in the city of lovers, meets Vijayalaxmi (Lisa Hayden) who is the antithesis of a conservative Indian girl. This scantily clad hotel housekeeper gradually exposes Rani to a free spirited living where every moment is fun-filled and made of carefree choices. Rani enjoys the company of her new friend and is almost past her failed engagement when her next move takes her to Amsterdam in a hostel room shared with 3 guys. The initial hesitation and fear is soon converted to a genuine bond of friendship as these roommates have fun around town. Language is a bit of an issue especially with Rani but she knows how to take a joke on herself. This uncanny ability turns even the most awkward moment into a laughable memory.
In the company of such unusual, warm, funny and trust-worthy friends, Rani lets go of the inhibitions she was brought up with and discovered freedom that had no strings attached. The resulting confidence was a handy weapon to use when she was suddenly confronted by her now apologetic betrayer, Vijay. Rani has found her true self in the company of these strangers in a foreign land while on the other hand, an opportunity to fix the ignominy of a failed wedding ceremony rests before her. She doesn't have to follow the conventional norms anymore. With her freedom comes the right to make her own decisions and she shall be the Queen of her own fate.
With the charming 'Chillar Party', Vikas Bahl portrayed his penchant for feel-good comedies. Queen isn't really challenging society's norms but it is proving yet again that society doesn't have the right to dictate the path for an individual. Within an open environment, a person can find their path and face challenges with renewed confidence. Rani is the embodiment of a simpleton's free-spirited nature and while she violates Guptaji's principles, she doesn't cease to entertain in this journey of self-discovery. Kangana Ranaut's exemplary performance is owed to her ability to naturally become Rani. Her ability to laugh at herself no matter how awkward the situation, is a particularly striking attribute that makes her so loveable. Kangana excels in some scenes where the simpleton Rani emotes naturally. With a few drinks on a night out, Rani helplessly bursts into tears and whines about her life 'itna kharab ho gaya' and soon she erupts on the dance floor to rock to Hungama hogaya and goes wild on the streets. She is deeply rooted to her conservative culture but does not mind trying some of Vijayalaxmi's open and free ways. Rani grows out of the broken relationship and by the time she mingles with her roommates in Amsterdam, she is a fun-loving, carefree individual who has found her peace among friends. This transition is handled by Kangana with a naturally subtle performance. The roommates Tim, Taka and Olexander are also fine actors with a keen ability to portray their characters in a natural manner. Taka is so full of energy while Olexander provides an understanding of Rani's traits and becomes a support for her. The rest of the supporting cast including Rajkumar Rao as Vijay and Rani's parents have provided sincere performances to suit the mood each time.
Hungama hogaya is definitely the most suited and entertaining song from the soundtrack. London Thumka starts off the entertainment during the Mehendi event. Badra Bahar is also a fun track that revolves around Rani's initial times in Paris. O Gujariya is Rani's transition into a fun-loving bride-to-be whereas Jugni and Kinare offer more depth in their lyrics to convey Rani's emotions and the story's implications. Amit Trivedi impresses yet again after his shot to fame with Wake up Sid, Udaan, Ek main aur ek tu, Kai po Che and Lootera.
Rani's solitary honeymoon turns out to be quite an adventure rather than a lonely, sulky escape. The screenwriters and dialogue writers have done very well with a story that wasn't supposed to provide depth and intricacy. Rather, Bahl's focus is maintained in the primary character and her relationships with strangers in a foreign land. It's Rani's vacation that is the focus and her transition is only a side-effect of all the fun she has away from home. Queen is thoroughly enjoyable in every aspect with Kangana's ground-breaking performance at its core. Vikas Bahl has brought meaning to a simple story with soulful music by Amit Trivedi, sharp editing, witty dialogues and genuine performances by the supporting cast. This Rani will win your heart and you will only be too glad to lose it.
- 9.115 on a scale of 1-10.
Review by Tom Brennan
Only the names have NOT been changed, with the obvious intention of implying that this movie has something to do with the Biblical story. It doesn't. NOAH is best described as Mad Max meets The Abyss and the Horta Rock Monsters (Taken directly and intact from Star Trek Original Series Episode 26) with Optimus Prime playing the lead Rock Monster plus scenes from every gladiator movie ever made.
Set aside the disappointing plot and awful performances, even the costuming was nothing like what people would have worn 2500 years before Christ in the middle east (or anywhere else, for that matter.) And while the live action was nothing worth filming, one would think at least the CGI would be well done. NOT. The "seams", if you will, between the live action and the CGI were as obvious as the cuts in an old Gumby cartoon.
Russell Crowe, in the lead role, turns in a performance that is, well, nothing to crow about while Anthony Hopkins is typecast as Methuselah. World's oldest man played by world's oldest actor. As a point in his career the only thing lower than this ho-hum performance is the perspective of some of the CGI camera shots: Bottom of the ocean.
Add this to costume and equipment gaffes that involve showing technological advances not heard of at the time period of the movie (sheet metal, Levi's jeans) and types of rock that burst into fire when whacked with an axe and you have a movie that is hard for a Christian to watch, for anyone older than first grade to swallow and for anyone at all to remain awake for the entire 2 and a half hours. And I think this is the most insidious thing about this movie: It will draw millions of Christians and tens of millions of Christian dollars through outright DECEIT.
If you go to this one you will get better value for your money at the concession stands than at the ticket window.
Stay home. Spend time with your children. Read your Bible. You'll at least get the story according to the original Author.