Saturday, 29 March 2014

Review: Captain America - The Winter Soldier

Franchise Changing!

Those two words came up instantly in my head after watching The Winter Soldier, as the movie offer the most impact I've seen so far to The Avengers franchise than any other heroes' individual outing thus far.

The Winter Soldier takes place two years after The Avengers, where Captain America continues to work with SHIELD even though he doesn't like it, as he has no other way to go after 70 years in cryostasis and teamed up with Black Widow.

This basis set up for a more grounded approach in comic book movies, as the story mostly heavily influenced by the state of our real world, driven by fear and heavily political. This creative and different approach makes Captain America's second solo outing one of the best Marvel's adaptation in recent years, and aside from The Avenger, this is the best Marvel Cinematic Universe movie since the first Iron Man.

As for action sequences go, The Winter Soldier has also adopted a different approach. Contrast to the heavy CGI of previous films, Marvel this time has opted to go for a more grounded approach, with CGI sequences much reduced this time around. This has resulted The Winter Soldier to have a more exciting and realistic actions compared to its siblings.

Character-wise, The Winter Soldier is also brilliantly done. Chris Evans is Captain America, just like Robert Downey Jr. is Iron Man, he really portrayed the character well, Samuel L. Jackson is back as Nick Fury, Scarlett Johansson is back as the super duper sexy femme fatale secret spy, Black Widow, and Falcon is really really cool! The Winter Soldier himself is a really good character, he really makes the movie feel terrifying in many ways and exciting as well. Cobie Smulders is also back as Agent Maria Hill, whom has a more expanded role than The Avengers, but I still can't get over the Robin Scherbatsky of How I Met Your Mother, whom she also portrayed. Captain America: The Winter Soldiers features an actual and great character development that is interesting to watch.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a fine and smart entry to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It serves up with a smarter script, interesting character developments, terrifying villain and a more grounded and realistic approach to the action sequences. It is definitely worth a watch!

Pros: Smart and interesting script, heavy impact to the overall franchise, great character development, terrifying and well-matched villain, realistic action sequences

Cons: That Robin thing, although it is smart, the plot could be bit better.

SCORE: 4.5/5 (Watch)

Monday, 17 March 2014

Review: Need For Speed (film)

Trailers ended, the lights started to dim, Touchstone Pictures & Dreamworks Studios logo going through they standard splash screen. Then, some chuckles in the cinema (myself included) when EA logo appeared, probably because it is unusual to see it in theatres, and it feels like we are booting up a video game.

Introducing, HOWARD STARK!

This is normal as the movie I'm talking about is Need For Speed, a loose movie adaptation of the video game of the same name. At first glance, it feels like a Fast & Furious wannabe, fast cars, good looking dudes and babes and racing set pieces, but that's where the similarity ends.

Wait, I'm not coming with you? WHAT??!!

The movie features a bare bone storyline and backstory of characters, which is disappointing because of the loose adaptation of this vast franchise. The writers could almost write anything, but instead they make it feel like it was written in a matter of hours while distracted by some other stuffs. Some unneeded plot twist here and there, it feels like a total mess.

This can be a very good fitting for Caption Contest

Aaron Paul (Tobey Marshall) and Michael Keaton (Monarch) could only done so much because of  the bad script, they are the characters worth exploring, and while not as good, Imogen Poots (Julia) also felt limited. Other characters, well, they felt flat all the way that we could even see the whole movie without noticing them.

Burn Baby! BURN!!!

But luckily, the action sequences shine when they mattered the most in the movie like this. Director Scott Waugh clearly knows how to handle the actions stuff well, as I love the action sequences in Act of Valor (he directed) as well. He chose the use of first person view of the racing sequence, which I really like it as it added the thrill into the movie. Final race sequence, the first race and swerving around Detroit are particularly exciting. Some of the action sequences felt better because there's no music interrupting the action, which is sometimes essential for racing sequences.

Look ma!

What I'm really so impressed about the movie is the low to no usage of CGI in the movie, so the end result is it felt realistic. This also meant that a lot of the stunt driving by the actors and stunt drivers are actually real, which is really impressive as most of the actors nowadays rely on green screen or body double.

Played too much Burnout perhaps?

As a car nut, watching the movie first time around, I noticed a few errors that really caught my eyes. The Bugatti Veyron Super Sport (which I think it is) was not particularly well replicated, the Lamborghini Sesto Elemento features a freaking power window and  the McLaren P1 doesn't raise its spoiler at high speed. With EA and its partners involved, I'm pretty sure they can at least have a look at some of these issues before they get the green light eh?

All and all, Need For Speed is a good, entertaining, adrenaline pumping popcorn movie. Its action sequences managed to overcome its dreadful story, but only just. More work is needed if they want a sequel.

Pros: Well-made action sequences, audio effects, realistic driving is a big welcome
Cons: Abysmal storyline, some sketchy dialogue, worrying looking replicas

Score: 3/5