Film Review: Captain America – The Winter Soldier

Review by Peter Gray

Release date: 3rd April 2014
Directors: Joe Russo & Anthony Russo
Cast: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Redford, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Frank Grillo, Emily VanCamp
Classification: M (Action Violence)

THOUGH I had a little comic book knowledge prior to the start of the Marvel universe in cinema, admittedly these films have been my introduction to this particular phase of superhero exploits with the collaborative ‘Avengers’ outing in 2012 still ranking as one of the greatest examples of the genre. 

Leading up to the release of ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ there appeared to be a serious amount of hype, the kind of theatrical bedlam that now seems like a staple ingredient in a Marvel Studio release.  With the infamous twist in ‘Iron Man 3’ failing to satisfy even the most devout of fans, it’s understandable that there’s now an air of caution when proceeding into one of these films, but I can safely attest that ‘The Winter Soldier’ should please the old-school fans of the original story as well as the general public looking for a smart and rewarding film.

Adjusting to life after the catastrophic events of ‘The Avengers’, Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) is doing all he can to catch up on the last 60-or-so-years aided by a specific checklist, recommendations from his running partner Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), and fending off dating possibilities through Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) who seems intent on fixing him up with an endless supply of eager bachelorettes.  It’s these initial moments that allow the film to display its wit and charm before setting up an obligatory action sequence that sees Rogers and Romanoff assist a strike team called in to rescue a group of hostages on a S.H.I.E.L.D. ship that’s come under attack.  This sequence is particularly intense and culminates in a warning for Steve to be weary of those around him.

I would be doing a great disservice to both the film and its impending audience by delving any further into the story as ‘The Winter Soldier’ manages to consistently surprise in its plot travels.  With the first film, 2011’s ‘The First Avenger’, there was a sense of the old-fashioned and it played with that formula well, here it similarly adopts another era with events playing out not unlike an espionage thriller from the 1970’s – albeit with a heftier budget and modern look.  With Rogers maintaining his strict moral code, the film presents an interesting dynamic for him as his quest to delve deeper into the government he thought he could trust means quite often a means to an end goes against what he stands for.

Unsurprisingly, Evans has integrated himself perfectly to the roles of both Rogers and Captain America.  One in the same yes, but whether he’s the man unsure of his purpose or the superhero determined to make a difference, he’s captivating to say the least.  As much as this is his movie, Johansson is given just as meatier material as the possible intention of furthering Black Widow with her own solo film project seems more feasible given how utilized she is here.  In a series where the women seldom hold their own against the more outlandish male figures that have been profiled several times over, it’s a pleasure to see a female character walk equal.  It certainly doesn’t hurt either that the chemistry between Evans and Johansson is so passionately realised.

A few familiar faces are on board to once again keep the Marvel universe unified with Samuel L. Jackson and Cobie Smulders reprising their roles of Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Maria Hill respectively, Jackson particularly playing an important role, whilst Hayley Atwell (as Rogers’ first love Peggy Carter), Toby Jones (as the evil Dr. Arnim Zola) and Sebastian Stan (Rogers’ right-hand man Bucky Barnes) all reprise their roles from the original ‘Captain America’, with Stan’s return as the titular Winter Soldier seriously striking.  Mackie as Sam Wilson, and his eventual superhero alter-ego The Falcon, is a solid new addition as is Robert Redford as Alexander Pierce, one of the big heads at S.H.I.E.L.D. who more than makes his presence felt.

Running over two hours the film could be accused of over-staying its welcome, and for a comic book actioner it definitely has the feel of a far more serious film, but they’re minor criticisms for yet another Marvel outing that outdoes its predecessor and sits high on the overall series spectrum.  As to be expected by now the end credits hold a few surprises and nods to where the series will venture (this particular mid-credit sequence alludes to ‘The Avengers’ sequel) but the film itself already establishes a notable change in direction, and I for one am completely invested.

My rating 4/5 (‘Winter’ strikes hot)

GLOW to light up Gold Coast’s thriving creative scene

glow 1GOLD Coast residents are invited to illuminate their senses at the City of Gold Coast’s first ever digital arts event – GLOW.

The inaugural event will light up the lakeside of Evandale Parklands, Bundall, on Saturday 12 April from 5pm to 10pm.

With only the stars and the lights of Surfers Paradise for guidance, residents can follow the glow to discover the City’s dynamic and diverse digital talent. It will feature digital arts from animation and projection to glow yoga and interactive video gaming.

glow 2Mayor Tom Tate said the City of Gold Coast was delighted to welcome the first ever lakeside water and laser spectacular tipped to be a highlight of the event program.

“GLOW will shine a light on the Gold Coast’s thriving creative scene,” Cr Tate said.

“There has never been a more exciting time for artists on the Gold Coast. There is a definite cultural shift and one of the key drivers for this is the City’s commitment to creating an international standard civic and cultural heart at Evandale.

“You will be able to immerse yourself in our cultural future with the strikingly colourful and distinctly Gold Coast winning design from ARM Architecture and Topotek1 taking centre stage at GLOW through the Gold Coast Cultural Precinct Touring Exhibition with full scale model, fly through animation and images.

“Together with the Culture Strategy, the precinct will help shape the city’s cultural future and create an environment where all types of creative expression have an outlet,” he said.

Cr Tate said the Gold Coast was home to a vibrant cultural scene.

“Every weekend is buzzing with events and festivals and GLOW is set to become one of our city’s major annual events of the future, as we support our Culture Strategy in action,” he said.

“If you’re in Surfers Paradise, take a free trip across the river and arrive via water shuttle from Cavill Avenue pontoon.”

Tweed-based internationally recognised digital artist Craig Walsh will entrance GLOW visitors with his intriguing digital projections into trees.

Other activities include an illuminated bar and food area, live music, short films, and self-guided tours of the sculpture walk.

More information on GLOW is available at cityofgoldcoast.com.au/glow

Date: Saturday 12 April 2014
Time: 5pm – 10pm
Location: Evandale Parklands and Lake (behind The Arts Centre Gold Coast), 135 Bundall Road, Bundall

On a lighter note

WANT to see someone get slapped down after getting a bit above themselves?

I mean, who doesn’t, right?

Broadwater LNP MP Verity Barton takes her role as a deputy speaker in the Queensland Parliament very seriously.

But the former Myer ‘retail consultant’ bit off more than she could chew when reprimanding veteran Nationals/LNP MP Vaughan Johnson.

VJ, who was in Parliament before she had even started school, was speaking on new stock laws.

Barton: It was brought to my attention that you may have cussed during your contribution.

VJ: What did I do … that is just how I talk all the time … did I offend you, Madam Deputy Speaker?

Barton: No. You used a term that may be considered unparliamentary, and I would ask that you withdraw.

VJ: Well, whatever you find was wrong. Do you want me to withdraw the whole lot and start again?

Barton: Just simply withdraw.

VJ: Whatever you find offensive, Madam Deputy Speaker, I apologise if I have upset you.

But I also could find no cuss words, just VJ being a colourful Aussie:

“One of the areas of major concern to me at the moment is that some of these lame-brained idiots who eat and drink green all day are trying to stop the branding of cattle in this industry.”

“People out there will think, ‘I’ll get the best out of this cow. That cow there is a dry cow. That one there is a wet cow.’ Like bloody hell! When it comes to big rain, 99 per cent of them will be wet cows because they will be in calf.”

“We had police officers out there that were tailing those sheep around for about 12 or 18 months. Not only were they tailing those sheep around, but they were also tailing our sheilas around. Us local blokes couldn’t even get in there, but the coppers came in and cut us all out!’

Maybe Barton drinks green tea.

Nanango MP Deb Frecklington was more appreciative of VJ’s long experience.

“It gives me great pleasure to stand in this House and follow the wonderful member for Gregory and his eloquent speech,” she said defiantly, after Barton’s perplexing outburst.

Perhaps a sign of growing tension between the Ls and the Ns in the LNP?

 

 

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Two Gold Coast swimmers make team for Glasgow

TWO GOLD Coast swimmers have booked their tickets to Glasgow.

Miami product Thomas Fraser-Holmes dominated the 400IM at the selection trials for the Commonwealth Games last night, winning in a time marginally outside the Commonwealth record of 4 minutes, 10.68 seconds.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports, the feat came just 30 minutes after Fraser-Holmes finished second in the 200m freestyle final to fellow local Cameron McEvoy.

McEvoy posted a personal best of 1.45.46 in the 200m to win his first national title, touching out last year’s champion Fraser-Holmes, who finished with 1.45.58.

Fraser-Holmes, who this year gave up the 400m freestyle, said while he had felt the pinch of the gruelling schedule, he had no hesitation in racing both events in Glasgow come July.

“Before the [400IM] race I said ‘this isn’t that bad’ but halfway through it was like ‘this is starting to sting a bit’,” Fraser-Holmes said.

“That’s where I’ve got to get more efficient in my back and breast. It’s good but not world standard as yet.”

McLean to sit out seven weeks for devastating McKinnon tackle

MELBOURNE Storm player Jordan McLean will spend seven weeks on the sideline after the NRL judiciary came down hard for a lifting tackle on Newcastle’s Alex McKinnon.

The awkward three-man tackle left the Knights back-rower with a devastating spinal injury and the possibility he may never walk again.

According to Wide World of Sports, last night a three-man panel comprising former Test players Bob Lindner, Mal Cochrane and Chris McKenna took less than 10 minutes to find McLean guilty of a dangerous throw charge.

McLean sat stone-faced throughout the one-hour hearing at league headquarters in Sydney, refusing to watch any of the more than 30 replays of the tackle that were shown over and over from eight different camera angles.

His lawyer Nick Ghabar had pleaded not guilty to the dangerous throw charge, arguing McKinnon had been the victim of a “terrible and tragic accident” and urged the panel to remove any emotion from the case.

The Storm is considering appealing the hefty suspension, but McLean won’t play against the Gold Coast in Melbourne this Sunday.