Tag Archives: Samuel L. Jackson

Captain America: The Winter Soldier | Review | Film

Captain America: The Winter SoldierPatriotism is a tough label to get around. For Captain America the character is forever typecast by his very name. Lucky then that the character Chris Evans portrays as the Captain has far more depth than it should.

Captain America: The Winter SoldierSince the first Captain America, the world has changed. The idealistic beginning of this symbol of hope and courage have become all too real as the aftermath of Avengers Assemble have taken their toll. Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D (so, SHIELD…) are pre-preemptively taking out terrorist targets, which cause the Captain to have something of a morality crisis.

Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) is much happier not following the rules, and spends much of the film learning why they can, in fact, be some use after all. Fury himself even gets some time to develop as a character, at last becoming more than just a cool guy with an eye patch.

Newcomer The Winter Soldier, whose origins you either suspect or may already know, gets no such luxury however and sadly suffers for it, impressing on skill but not substance. Whether his character will grow in a future iteration of the franchise remains to be seen.


The stakes are higher this time around, thanks to a relic of the past coming back to haunt in true comicbook style, and the action rises to the occasion well. The drama shys away from the likes of romance for the most part, instead pushing ahead with the subject of morality, and plays the hand strongly, but still with a healthy dose of care from the audience about the characters.

There’s no magic or alien involvement in this Marvel story (though the technological accomplishments possible in 1945 seem a tad unlikely) so it’s up to the Cap to take on his enemies with nothing but his iron will and his insanely indestructible shield.

Captain America: The Winter SoldierThe story might be a stretch, but you can’t deny it is simplicity at its heart and this works in the film’s favor for the most part – there’s little risk of scenes dragging on too long and you losing interest.

News that Evans won’t be continuing, while not a complete shock, does surprise when you consider how naturally he falls into this role – especially after already playing a well-known Marvel character only a few years before.

Since then Evans, like his choice of characters, have come of age and taken on more responsibility as an actor. He brings a subtle physicality to the role, not wearing it on his sleeve like Hugh Jackman but undeniably well built, so much so that you can almost believe his opening mammoth sprint.

In all there’s a lot to enjoy about this film so long as you can immerse yourself in Marvel’s increasingly complex world, but at the same time resist the urge to ask questions like ‘So, where’s Iron Man while this is going on?’ and ‘No way The Hulk would sit around and let that happen’.

Whether the character has the mileage for the third film, after the difficult second compilation album that is The Avengers: Age of Ultron remains to be seen. For now, it’s a fun and enjoyable film which hits the tone just right to move things on, and leave you wanting more.

Rating: 4/5

James Michael Parry

Robocop (2014) | Review | Film

RoboCop (2014)The return of RoboCop was something noone asked for. The 1987 original is a piece of cinema history, as elegant as only storytelling from the 80s can be. So why watch this remake?

The short answer is if you want to a watch a film which, judged on its own merits is passable, but when compared to its older brother fails to live up to its name in almost every way.

The story begins, as before, in a futuristic Detroit – although the 80s version of the future, as usual, is cooler than what we’ve ended up with. This time the scale is more focused on the global threat of terrorism and the loss of American lives, lovingly set up by Pat Novak (Samuel L. Jackson).

There’s no doubt that the film is aware of the irony in its Robocop_2014_posterdepiction of both Pat and the gun-loving Yanks he represents in using a one-dimensional view of the world to see a robot army crawling over Tehran as ‘freedom’.

The origins of RoboCop as the monotone-voiced cyborg we know and love have changed. Not only is Alex Murphy not shot to pieces, but RoboCop himself has no amnesia to tangle with, just a spot of drug therapy – which conveniently fixes itself when the plot requires it.

Lead Joel Kinnaman (known only from TV series The Killing) does a remarkably uninspiring job of bringing Murphy to life. It’s the nature of a reboot to compare to the original, but Kinnaman plays things far to safe to offer any stand-out moments whatsoever, and as a result you feel as if it could have easily been a completely separate film and it might have even be better off.

Some of the changes seem petty as well, such as Murphy being transformed by ‘OmniCorp’, now a subsidiary of ‘Omni Consumer Products’, rather than OCP itself, which means there’s no board of directors to tangle with, just Batman…I mean Michael Keaton.

The iconic ED-209 robot is also tragically sidelined, wheeled (or tiptoed?) out for only a couple of key scenes and there was no chance for them to offer their customary warning whatsoever.

Film should move forward, rather than look back. The best remakes undeniably build on what has gone before in the franchise rather than re-treading old ground.

With this release, no new ideas are brought to the table. Murphy’s relationship with his son is held up as an overly significant plot point, but it has no pay off, and his wife’s distress while touching at first quickly grows into a distraction.

Murphy's relationship with his family takes centre stage...when it suits the plot.
Murphy’s relationship with his family takes centre stage…when it suits the plot.

Not enough time is spend with the film’s main villain, Antoine Vallon (Patrick Garrow), and instead the audience warms to secondary antagonist Rick Mattox (Jackie Earle Haley), who is unfortunately sidelined before he gets a decent throwdown with RoboCop.

The suit design inexplicably offers a single human hand, not even its relevant arm, as if to make some sort of statement about the importance of contact and humanity, but instead comes off looking oddly asymmetrical and you are frequently left wondering why.

In fact that thought is something of a theme for the film altogether – just why? Everything about the film is forgettable and uninspired. The acting talent of the supporting cast, including Keaton and Oscar-nominee Gary Oldman, struggles to shine amid a script which offers no relief from the inevitability of a film made for profit rather than love.

If you are about 12 years old, then there is genuinely some excitement to be had here (not to the standards of a stronger Doctor Who two-parter, but hey), and the action is decent enough when it happens, though the shaky cam is enough to give you a bit of a headache if you watch too hard.

In all RoboCop is a film which fails to re-capture audiences imaginations, as if someone tried to play Heath Ledger’s Joker with none of the audacity and ended up with a paler, tamer, and far less bloody version of the film we know and love.

Rating: 2/5

James Michael Parry

If you fancy an alternative, check out indie title Our RoboCop Remake instead.

Film | Review: The Avengers | This Is Entertainment

picture courtesy showmescifi.comWhen making a cake, experience tells us that throwing every tasty thing you can think of into the mix doesn’t necessarily give you the tastiest spongy-based confection of all time. What are we to think of The Avengers then? Aside from a clarifying or baffling name change in the UK (depending on your generation) to Marvel’s Avengers Assemble, the film represents the film equivalent of putting all of your eggs, sugar and everything else in one mixing bowl and baking it for two hours.

The build up to the film has been epic, and anyone who hasn’t seen the films which introduce our misfit band of heroes would do well to familiarise themselves beforehand. The characters are all likeable enough for a first impression though, and Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/Hulk manages to fit in effortlessly despite not playing the character in his hero (or monster) origin story.

The threat which brings the Avengers together is orchestrated by demi-god Loki, brother of the thunder-happy Thor. Loki intends to rule the world (yep, that old chestnut), with help from an outer-space army of grisly evil creatures called the Chitauri., who will send an army to conquer and leave Loki to be in charge of what is left of humanity.

With all of the big guns in play, it’s a fast-paced film, leaving little time for character arcs or deep and moving moments, but director Joss Weedon knows how to work an ensemble cast (not least from his work on sci-fi cult classic Firefly) and makes sure no one seems left out.

The comedy element of the film is distinctly more pronounced than its predecessors, with almost every character getting a zinging one-liner at some point or other – even the Hulk had the audience laughing out loud on occasion. Love-to-hate villain Loki (played to perfection by Tom Hiddleston) takes the crown in an exchange between him and brother Thor (Chris Hemsworth). Thor is understandably unhappy with his younger brother’s behaviour, and the pair proceed to have a verbal sparring match in a murky wood, culminating in Thor brandishing his iconic hammer with fire and brimstone and howling at Loki to listen well. Immediately Thor is bowled over by an airborn Captain America (Chris Evans) and flings out of sight, leaving Loki to remark: “Erm…I’m listening.”

picture courtesy geek-grotto.comNewcomer Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) has a hard time of it, spending most of the time on the wrong team, but manages the most memorable emotional scene in the film and some equally impressive action with his signature bow.

Despite the obvious dangers, things are kept in the balance so the film expertly avoids becoming ‘Iron Man and friends’. The effortlessly charismatic Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark manages to fit in with the team in exactly the right way, still up to his usual cheeky and reckless ways, but not to the extent that the audience becomes irritated and impatient, a fact which makes the climax’s emotional weight.

Supporting players from SHIELD like Nick Fury (helpfully pointed out as Samuel L. Jackson in the opening credits, just in case we missed it) and Agent Coulson, who is finally blessed with a first name, continue to impress. Particularly striking is the Avengers’ home base the SHIELD Helicarrier, which serves as one of the most diverse and action-packed sets in the film.

The film succeeds in being more than the sum of its parts. It might not be the most remarkable story in the world, but the balance, pacing, drama and action are all just right, making the film the defining superhero flick of the decade…at least until Spidey and The Bat return.

Rating: 5/5

James Michael Parry