It’s time for a Dose of Buffa at the movies my friends. Quick, to the point and a perspective that demands attention. The pharmacy is open. Here are my latest reviews.
CAPTAIN AMERICA 2: THE WINTER SOLDIER
Setup-The sequel to The First Avenger and post Avengers new Marvel film finds our titular hero, Steve Rogers, having finally adjusted to the modern world. He is working with SHIELD yet knows where the line between right and wrong is. That stance is tested by Robert Redford’s new executive at the Headquarters, who wants to send Captain after criminals before they commit a crime. That means crossing a line with the world’s privacy. Along with Black Widow, Captain has to find a way to do the right thing without stepping over people’s freedom. When he is faced with a new enemy who carries a familiar face from his past, Rogers/Captain must battle every single inner demon he has in order to save the world.
My Take-This is a very well done film with a full backstory and plot set up to put one of Marvel’s best heroes in the mix for a great adventure. Chris Evans continue to command the screen as Rogers/Captain America and the supporting cast does a fine job as well. One of the best performances comes from Robert Redford’s tricky new suit who wants to twist the idea of good and bad with a strategy that is very similar to the one the real life government is thinking about putting on us. By installing a real world plot device in a super hero film, directing duo Anthony and Joe Russo heighten the action and provide more than just an experience.
Do you want to see this movie if you hate comic book movies? Yes and no. There are comic book elements brought to the big screen here as well as a plot you could see in any other action thriller. I think this sequel improves on the first film because of the relationship Evans and Sebastian Stan(playing the villainous Winter Soldier) create on screen as two men standing on separate sides of the law yet sharing a link from the past. Their connection isn’t a mere setup but more fully fleshed out here and by the end of the film resonates with any person who ever lost a friend to the dark side.
The supporting cast is solid. Scarlett Johansson is gorgeous and convincing as the Black Widow, kicking ass while conveying a mysterious loneliness with her character. The most sublime part of the Marvel films is showing us how alone and sad these heroes are. They fight because of their unique skills and hunger to do right, but deep down they are very isolated from the rest of the world. Frank Grillo creates his usual maniac presence, playing a good man twisted by circumstance who will play a larger role in the next sequel. As noted earlier, Redford is money and Samuel L. Jackson turns in assured work once again as Nick Fury.
The film belongs to Evans, an actor who used the role a few back to solidify his career in Hollywood. He fits inside the emotional catharsis of the central character and is more than handy at the action. His takedown of 10 guys inside an elevator is simple old school action fun. Evans plays the role like it belongs to him and him alone. A consistent thing in these Marvel productions.
You will enjoy this film a lot if you are a fan of the comics and you may even have a good time if you know nothing about the story of Steve Rogers. I highly recommend it.
Setup-In a world divided by factions based on virtues, Tris learns she’s Divergent and won’t fit in. When she discovers a plot to destroy Divergents, Tris and the mysterious Four must find out what makes Divergents dangerous before it’s too late.
My Take-I didn’t like this movie. For a film built on a trilogy of popular books about young heroes in a distant future fighting the oppressive tyrants that overlook their future. Yeah, I just yawned when I wrote that.
The biggest problem with the movie is the LENGTH. It felt long and stretched the mind too far with its repeated attempts to entertain us and teach us some societal lessons. I can take the different factions and plot devices at work here and love the idea of a female heroine who could save the world from dictatorship. I love those kind of films where drama, action and thriller elements come together with a tinge of romance. It just didn’t work for me in Divergent.
Shailene Woodley makes for a fine centerpiece and Theo James brings the right amount of jaded heroism to his role as Four, the man who finds a connection in Woodley’s Tris through his own past. Kate Winslet, Tony Goldwyn, Ashley Judd and Ray Stevenson all do fine work here. They fit their roles. Miles Teller, Zoe Kravitz and Jai Courtney are energetic and fine as well. The cast isn’t the problem. It’s the editing and story that sounds all too familiar.
It’s impossible to NOT compare Divergent to The Hunger Games, a series I like a lot. Stories about futuristic societies where the government leans heavily on the poor and forces a style of games to determine who lives and dies or becomes the person they were meant to be. Both are based on a best selling trilogy of adored books. There are differences in the plot but with the female face at the front of them, it feels the same. Hunger Games came first and made a great impact. Divergent doesn’t have the strength or urgency of the story to make it worthwhile to match its running time.
In the end, the film is rather boring and too familiar and dull to make me recommend it. Save this one for DVD but make two bowls of popcorn to accommodate the length.
Thanks for collecting this latest dose. Come back for more next time and as always, check out http://www.film-addict.com for my fellow colleagues critiques of new releases.