Friday, May 30, 2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Captain America: The Winter Solider:
Even on film Batroc The Leaper gets no love...

I have never hid the fact that though i do love my superheroes, i never really was a fan of Captain America, its like i said in my review of his last film The First Avenger, I understand the need for Cap, i understand what he represents and stands for, and respect that, but, he never really grabbed me as a character, he was always just there, leading the Avengers, tossing his shield and taking down superpowered beings with basic self defense and some kung fu. He always seemed like he was most relevant in the 1940s, which is why i was so happy when The First Avenger was set back then, and not only did the story of Cap right, but it also got all the other characters with him right, even if they never mention that Hydra and The Red Skull are high ranking nazi soldiers. Seriously, go back and watch The First Avenger, no where in that movie does Hydra once get referred to as a nazi organization. Anyway, I was a tad bit leery going into this second movie, given that The Winter Solider was such a recent story, and also something that the non-comic book watchers might have issues following, plus i was worried it was gonna be littered with "Haha Captain America doesn't know (place pop culture thing here) isn't that funny? hahahha" jokes, thankfully, all my doubts were put to rest with his lovely action packed and fun film that honestly, was the best Marvel film sense Avengers, plus its the first marvel film truly have ripple effects it made throughout the Marvel Cinematic universe be major ripples, not small little dribbles. bit we'll get into that later on.

The movie starts out two years after the events of Avengers, where we find Captain America and The Black Widow are onboard a SHIELD transport jet talking about how Cap needs to relax and get himself settled into the modern world, go to see movies, or concerts, or even dating, which Cap jokingly says "if I did any of that, I couldn't do this sort of thing.." and jumps out of the plane with no parachute, much to the annoyance of Widow and the admiration of the rest of their group, whom you find out are freeing SHIELD vessel from a group of terrorists, headed by a man named Georges Batroc, better known as low level and mostly used for comedy villain Batroc The Leaper, who has no real super powers, just apparently can jump and use kung fu and in more modern versions of the character can use parkor as well. The movie shows Cap sneaking around the ship putting Batroc's men down one by one, as the SHIELD team, and Widow stand by and basically watch, after Cap out and out humiliates Batroc, as is customary with the character, as the team is mopping up whats left of the terrorists, as Cap and Widow continue their discussion from earlier, Cap discovers that Widow, though his back up, was also there to make sure a secret SHIELD flashdrive didn't get into the hands of the wrong people, which angers Cap that he wasn't told of the secondary mission.

Cap heads back to the Triskelion, the base of operations for SHIELD, where he confronts Nick Fury about this secondary mission he was left out of the loop on, Fury lets Cap in on something called "Project Insight", where in there would be three more powerful then the one they already have SHIELD Helicarriers, which Fury explains, will have the ability to wipeout a person that the program seems is, or even will be, a threat, in a sense, cutting off the head before it can grow. Cap gives Fury a speech about how wrong that is, and how people aren't born evil, they choose to be, just because someone might become a threat, don't mean that always will become evil, and that not giving the good in people a chance is wrong. Fury gives a speech about his grandfather and how he loved people, but he never trusted any of them, Fury asks the director of SHIELD to slow down and take a breather before going any farther on the program, Fury's boss agrees to meet him and have a discussion about the matter. On his way to his meeting Fury is ambushed by a long haired assassin with a metal arm and his face covered up, Fury tries to elude him and his followers as he races through the streets of Washington DC, the fight ends with Fury's suburban totaled, and him hiding in Cap's apartment waiting to warn him, until he's shot through the window, causing Cap's neighbor to reveal that she's a SHIELD agent who's job is to guard Cap if anything were to attack his home, they rush Fury to the ER where he seemingly dies on the operating table, leaving Widow and Cap to discuss whats next for SHIELD as Widow tells Cap she recognizes the description of the man who attacked Fury, she claims he is a soviet operative called The Winter Soldier, the two of them decide to go off the grid, along with Cap's new friend Sam Wilson, a former pararescue trooper, who later reveals that he was the pilot of a special jetpack called "The Falcon".

From there the film becomes almost nothing but non-stop action scenes with little bits of awesome tossed in, as you see the three of them fight off The Winter Solider, discovering who he really is, and jogging his memory long enough to get him free of those controlling him, as well as discover the dark secret that has been hidden deep with in SHIELD going back to his foundation, a secret that as the triskelion and the three new age helicarriers are destroyed in a battle that is best described as beyond epic,and that becomes the second event, after the alien invasion in Avengers, to send out shockwaves that impact all of the established Marvel Cinematic Universe, including the much debated television series Agents Of SHIELD, where in the aftermath of the film's climax is the basis for the final quarter of the series first season, an action that actually turned around many of the series doubters, as they go from dealing with Z-List bad guys and lots of unanswered questions, to the forefront of the MCU, which i think was the plan from the very beginning, and if it was, it has to be one of the best examples of playing the long game for the best pay off in movie and television history.

Its seriously killing me not to give away anything thats happened in the second half of the film in case you've not seen it, or not seen Agents Of SHIELD by now, but honestly, just trust me, this film, is beyond epic, even the little jokes about how out of touch with the modern world Captain America really is, look online, each region and country got their own list of things Cap is writing down in the scene where he meets Sam Wilson, and i must admit, there is a heartbreaking scene where Cap visits his old love Peggy Carter in the hospital, only to find out her mind is going, but she still recognizes himin the brief moments she's able to remember who she is. Honestly, this movie was just so damn good. And the two stinger scenes during the credits, as is customary in Phase 2 of MCU films, you get a look not only on what is happening to The Winter Soldier, but you meet Adriane Von Strucker and the two curious cases he's been studying..

And as normal, if you don't believe me, here have a look at the trailer....



X-Men: Days Of Future Past

X-Men: Days Of Future Past:
A Totally Different Take On An Old Favorite

Its never really been a secret that my writing came from my youth reading comic books, while others were reading pretentious crap like "The Great Gatsby" and "Weathering Heights" which honestly bored the utter hell out of me, I was reading Chris Clairmont's over 20 year run on The Uncanny X-Men, or Frank Miller's run on DareDevil, and ofcourse, Alan Moore's brilliant Watchmen miniseries. So you can imagine that when I heard the next movie in the rebooted X-Men movie series was going to be "Days Of Future Past", taking its name from one of the greatest stories Chris Clairmont ever wrote I was first excited, and then when I heard that Bryan Singer, killer of the first three X-Men films and arguably the worst thing to happen to comic book movies sense Joel Schumacher made Batman movies in the 1990s, was to direct this film, I became worried, very very worried, seriously, the idea of one of my favorite stories ever written being directed by Bryan Singer made me almost wanna throw up. But, as often is the case when it comes to me and my beliefs on comic related things, I was eventually talked into calming down and giving it a chance by the people who were sick of me ranting about how Singer was going to ruin the X-Men worse then any bat-credit card like mcguffin ever could. And I must admit, though it wasn't exactly what I was expecting the film to be, it was enjoyable, it wasn't as good as First Class, but it wasn't a waste of two and a half hours, like i was worried it was going to be, though my inner nerd ofcourse screamed and yelled and corrected certain things, and asked WTF on other things, I truly did enjoy the film, which was a pleasant surprise for me.

The film starts out in the year 2023, and the world is nothing more then a wasteland, you see giant robots roaming the streets freely as you discover that you're in whats left of Moscow, deep down in a bunker you find whats left of The X-Men, this group consists of Shadowcat, Colossus, Bishop, Sunspot, Iceman, Blink and Warpath. They are readying for an assault by the giant robots, called Sentinels, mutant hunting robots who's only job is to destroy or if they have a power they can use, capture a mutant and keep it alive only long enough to discover how to assimilate its power into their own. As the Sentinels break through their bunker doors, Shadowcat grabs Bishop and runs with him, phasing the two of them through solid objects to get away and eventually get them to the most secure room in the bunker, as the others one by one give their lives to stop the Sentinels from getting to them, as you see that the Sentinels eventually adapt and use their powers against them and each other, slowly the team is slaughtered as the giant robots make their way to where Shadowcat is using a secondary mutant power, the power to send your mind backwards in time, on Bishop, who's powers are to basically absorb energy like a battery, as the Sentinels breach the door, Shadowcat says "Too late assholes..." as she, Bishop, the robots, and the damage they had done all disappear as if they were never there.

Next you see a jet land deep in what looks to be inland China. And out of it come Prof. Charles Xavier,  Storm, Magneto, and everyone's favorite plot device, Wolverine, as they leave the jet you hear Shadowcat call out and ask what took them so long to get there. As they go inside the large old monastery looking building Shadowcat explains that she'd recently discovered she can send a person's mind back into their body in the past, she admits she's only done it afew days, and in one instance a month, but thats as far back as it goes she assumes. Magneto and Xavier both agree that she has to try and send someone back to 1973 before the Sentinel program began and stop it all from happening, and after a small debate over which one should do it, its decided that Wolverine will go, because with his healing factor and his already damaged mind, it won't cause him the pain and trouble that it would cause anyone else who tried to make the trip. Xavier and Magneto tell him that he has to go back and find both of them, and get them to help him stop Mystique, the blue shapeshifting mutant from all the other X-Men movies, from murdering a man named Bolivar Trask, the creator of The Sentinels, whom Mystique kills infront of the whole world and the panic caused by this greenlights the Sentinel program. 

Wolverine wakes in his body in 1973, where he wakes up in a waterbed next to a girl he doesn't at first remember, we soon discover that in 1973, Wolverine was working for a mobster in New York City, which you soon discover the girl in his bed is the daughter of, by way of the two thugs that show up to get the two of them for their boss. At this point we discover that Wolverine didn't have his metal claws in 1973, as he dispenses with the two thugs, and takes one of them's car to go find Xavier, who is wallowing in self pity in his now closed down school. Here Wolverine encounters Hank McCoy, or Beast, as he's known, who seems to be taking care of Xavier, who is able to walk for some reason, but does not have his powers, and is a massive drunk. Wolverine is able to eventually convince Xavier that he is from the future, and that he sent him back in time, and that he has to get Magneto and save the world from the birth of the Sentinels, the thing is, Magneto is in super secret never seeing the sun again jail, for apparently killing President Kennedy, though Wolverine knows a guy who can help them get him out, even though he's a young man and hasn't met any of the X-Men yet in 1973, this is where they enlist the help of a young Peter Maximorf, Quicksilver, who honestly, steals the whole first half of the film. From there, once they've gathered the main cast together, they go off to hunt Mystique, and you learn why Xavier doesn't have his powers, but can walk. 

The rest of the film from here is a joyride of action and fun and serious mind games ontop of mind games and secondary agendas ontop of secondary agendas, you find out what Mystique is liberating mutants who were forced into a special unit in the army that were going to be handed over to Trask for research, where the existence of mutants is revealed to the world in a way that can not be spun to make it seem like a fake incident like it was in First Class, we're talking full on screen on live tv using powers on each other, you also find out what happened to the cast thats missing from First Class, as Xavier and Magneto try and forgive each other for abandoning each other and those who they claimed to protect, all leading up to a showdown on live television in Washington DC where President Nixon is almost killed on the air, but instead the world sees that for every dangerous mutant, there is one that is good as well, i won't spoil the way the movie ends, but honestly, it left a smile on my face, which honestly, is hard for a movie to do.

I have to tell you all, honestly, this film was WAY better then what i was expecting it to be, and if i'm being honest with you, the movie could have been a steaming pile of dog shit, but the scene with Quicksilver set to possibly the most hilariously opposite song as they're getting Magneto out of super top secret jail, would have made the whole trip to the theater worth it, i couldn't stop laughing for the entire scene, and honestly i wished he'd been in the whole film, not just the first half, but over all, the film was pretty good, it made alot of in jokes, many a joke of Wolverine passing through a metal detector because he hasn't had the metal claws yet, Magneto even making the joke about them "imagine if those beauties were metal..", it all and all was a great little fun ride of a film, right to the stinger of an after the credits scene. Though I must admit, my inner nerd does scream out about afew things, I don't recall Shadowcat being able to send people's mind through time, i even checked the Marvel Wiki and Wikipedia itself, and there is no mention of that ability on her pages, so I'm glad i didn't just forget that, and the film, honestly borrows more from the plot of the critically acclaimed cartoon Wolverine And The X-Men, then it does with the actual story Days Of Future Past, but thats just fine, because both stories were excellent stories, and you don't really mind that sort of thing when the source stuff is awesome. I will also state that i am incredibly overjoyed that the future Sentinels, were not called "Nimrods" the name of the future Sentinels that think on their own and adapt and mimic powers, I've always hated that name and felt it never really worked.

But my few little quibbles aside, honestly this film was awesome, and I truly had a wonderful time, and if you choose to go see it, you will as well... Oh and as for the after credits scene, had the director not told us what movie was coming after this one in the series, well, En Sabah Nur would have been one hell of a OMG shocker, but, well, anyone thats been paying attention to the press knows who he grows to be...

But if i can't convince you, here is the trailer...