Robert Redford

REVIEW: Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

My original Captain America: The Winter Soldier review from April 2014 is here.

Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is attempting to make a life for himself, working for Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and SHIELD when an assassin from history known only as the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) resurfaces.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a brilliant film. It combines spy thriller with superheroes who are really down to earth characters, so well that it almost goes beyond being a “simple” comic book movie. The superheroes here are all very human, and besides Steve Rogers himself who’s pretty strong but still human, they are all people who get hurt and bleed.

Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) is a spy who’s used to showing people what they want to see, so her developing friendship with Steve is quite special. They are almost moral opposites in how they see the world, but they find a common ground and seeing them work together is great. Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) is a brilliant character, he’s a soldier like Steve but he’s never been a part of SHIELD so is someone Steve can talk to and trust. Because that’s the thing with SHIELD, it’s a super-secret organisation where everyone has their own agendas, you can never be sure who to trust.

Secretary to the World Security Council Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford) is new character who personifies SHEILD’s shady agenda. He’s an old friend of Fury’s but being at the top of the SHIELD hierarchy means he definitely knows more than he lets on. Captain America: The Winter Soldier presents the idea of an organisation with almost limitless control thanks to its surveillance and ability to act outside of the law – this is political thriller territory and it handles it all incredibly well.

The fight scenes in Captain America: The Winter Soldier thrilling and generally well-shot. There’s a lot of hand to hand combat sequences and while there is quick editing and a variety of shot types, there’s moments where the camera tracks whoever’s fighting or there’s a wide-shot, so you can actually see the actors go at it and it makes the whole thing feel more real and tense.

There’s so many stand-out scenes in Captain America: The Winter Soldier but one of my favourites is the attack on Nick Fury’s car and subsequent car chase. Not only does it show off SHIELD’s technology and what a badass Fury is, but it’s tense and exciting and you get worried because Nick Fury is not a man who’s supposed to be able to get hurt.

I can’t not talk about the Winter Soldier. He’s one of the most ruthless yet interesting villains in the MCU. The music when he’s on screen, ‘The Winter Soldier’ composed by Henry Jackman, is haunting as well. It has this low bass rumble and these mechanical sounds that are almost like screams, you can imagine this is what the Winter Soldier hears in his head. It’s a great piece of music and the whole score is one of the most memorable from the MCU.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is magnificent. It’s got the usual spectacle but with its characters who are so relatable and human, it makes it a superhero film for the ages. 5/5.

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REVIEW: Pete’s Dragon (2016)

Petes_Dragon_2016_posterPete (Oakes Fegley) has been living in the woods for years with his best friend Elliot, who just happens to be a dragon, but when Pete is discovered by park ranger Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard) their happy life is upended when she and the townspeople try to take Pete back to civilisation.

Pete’s Dragon is old-fashioned and kind of nostalgia-inducing in the best way. It is full of imagination and wonder and is such a light, hopeful film after all the grim, dark stuff we’ve got lately. It is a family film full of great character dynamics and no one is made into a pantomime villain, even Gavin (Karl Urban) the man who believes Elliot to be dangerous has some redeemable qualities and you can see the reasons behind his actions.

Pete’s Dragon is a beautiful film. The shots of the forest are stunning and the work gone into bringing Elliot to life is top-notch. He looks like a real creature and the way he interacts with Pete and other characters is brilliant. Elliot has the characteristics of a big friendly dog and he is so well animated that you can see his personality shine through in his actions and in his eyes.

The film is a bit slow to really get going. It takes its time setting up Pete and Elliot’s relationship as well as other characters in the town like Grace and her relationship with her father Meacham (Robert Redford). However, once Pete comes into contact with Grace and the rest of the town the pace does pick up a lot and the final act is a roaring adventure.

Pete’s Dragon is a lovely film, full of heart and old-school adventure. 4/5.