REVIEW: NICK FURY: AGENT OF S.H.I.E.L.D.

CAST

David Hasselhoff (Click)
Lisa Rinna (Veronica Mars)
Sandra Hess (Mortal Kombat: Annilation)
Neil Roberts (Holby City)
Garry Chalk (Dark Angel)
Tracy Waterhouse (Elysium)
Tom McBeath (Bates Motel)
Ron Canada (Cinderella Man)
Bill Croft (Andromeda)
Roger Cross (Arrow)

hqdefaultThe first live-action interpretation of Nick Fury, played by none other than David Hasselhoff. In this 1998 made-for-TV movie, The Hoff stars as the comic-book super spy, alongside soap star Lisa Rinna as Contessa Valentina ‘Val’ de Allegro Fontaine and a cast of relative unknowns. Now, in an effort to capitalize on Jackson’s notable appearance and the current popularity of comic-book properties on the big screen, the first Nick Fury film was released on DVD.There are a few things you should know. Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. is not a good film.At times it seems as if the filmmakers knew they didn’t have the talent, schedule or budget to make a quality film, so they took the so-bad-it’s-good approach. Except they never quite got as far as the “good” part. The acting is cringe worthy, the dialogue is laughable, the action scenes are awkwardly choreographed, the plot is unoriginal and little attempt has been made to be faithful to the original comic-book mythology beyond the use of the characters’ names.andrea-von-strucker-nick-fury-agent-of-shieldFor what it’s worth, the story centers on a plot hatched by Andrea von Strucker (aka Viper), the daughter of Nick Fury’s defeated nemesis, Baron Wolfgang von Strucker, described in the film as “last of the great global boogey men.” As the new head of the terrorist organization known as HYDRA, she threatens to launch a deadly biological attack on Manhattan in the form of the Death’s Head Virus, unless she is paid in the sum of $1 billion.forgottenfilmsnickfuryThe threat is big enough to bring Nick Fury back into the field after five years of forced retirement. He’s understandably reluctant to return to S.H.I.E.L.D. — which, in this case, stands for the inelegantly named “Supreme Headquarters International Espionage Law Enforcement Division”  until his old flame Val shows up and convinces him of the impending danger posed by von Strucker’s evil spawn. He assembles a task force — including Val, psychic Kate Neville (Tracy Waterhouse) and the eager but untested Agent Pierce (Neil Roberts) — to disarm the missiles containing the virus and to take down Viper before she can escape to do more damage. Don’t let the cover of the DVD fool you. Though this is touted as coming “from one of the writers of Batman Begins” there’s no trace of the realism or tragic darkness of that film. The writer in question is David Goyer, who’s been involved in his share of high-profile genre projects (namely the Blade trilogy). As one of his earlier and less successful efforts, he’d probably be content for this title to remain in obscurity.Even if the dialogue was stellar, the real problem would be with Hasselhoff’s forced and overly dramatic performance. He’s hopelessly miscast as the hard-as-nails, playing-by-his-own-rules Fury. No matter how much he poses or chomps on cigars with flourish, there’s nothing tough or intimidating about him. As a fighter, he’s slow and stiff in his movements. So much so that it’s distractingly obvious whenever the choreography has been adjusted to compensate for his lack of agility and when a stunt double has been brought in to do it for him. There’s never any danger of the audience taking the character too seriously. But Hasselhoff is not alone in this regard. There’s plenty of atrocious acting in this film that he’s not responsible for, amplified by a mesh of excruciating attempts at various accents, both foreign and American. The worst offender is Sandra Hess as Viper, who takes the character too far into the realm of camp that she actually surpasses Hasselhoff in terms of overacting. In the end, the story’s resolution allows for her return in future adventures. Needless to say, and thankfully,  that’s not going to happen.hqdefault.jpgThe character of Nick Fury has a rich history and a deep back story that may someday make for a good film. But this low-budget, low-quality affair is definitely not it.

 

REVIEW: CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER

 

CAST

Chris Evans (The Losers)
Samuel L. Jackson (Jurassic Park)
Scarlett Johansson (Lucy)
Robert Redford (The Sting)
Sebastian Stan (Spread)
Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker)
Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother)
Frank Grillo (The Purge 2)
Maximiliano Hernandex (Warriors)
Emily Vancamp (Revenge)
Hayley Atwell (The Duchess)
Toby Jones (The Hunger Games)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble0
Alan Dale (Lost)
Chin Han (Arrow)
Garry Shandling (Over The Hedge)
Steven Culp (Jason Goes To Hell)
Gary Sinise (Deception)
Thomas Kretschmann (Dracula)
Elizabeth Olsen (Godzilla)
Danny Pudi (Powerless)
Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Kick-Ass)
Callan Mulvey (Batman V Superman)
Jenny Agutter (Child’s Play 2)
Adetokumboh M’Cormack (Lost)
Evan Parke (King Kong)
Henry Goodman (The New Pope)

MV5BMTYxNTI5OTkyM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTUwMDM0MTE@._V1_Two years after the Battle of New York, Steve Rogers works in Washington D.C. for the espionage agency S.H.I.E.L.D. under Director Nick Fury, while adjusting to contemporary society. Rogers and Agent Natasha Romanoff are sent with S.H.I.E.L.D.’s counter-terrorism S.T.R.I.K.E. team, led by Agent Rumlow, to free hostages aboard a S.H.I.E.L.D. vessel from Georges Batroc and his mercenaries. Mid-mission, Rogers discovers Romanoff has another agenda: to extract data from the ship’s computers for Fury. Rogers returns to the Triskelion, S.H.I.E.L.D.’s headquarters, to confront Fury and is briefed about Project Insight: three Helicarriers linked to spy satellites, designed to preemptively eliminate threats. Unable to decrypt the data recovered by Romanoff, Fury becomes suspicious about Insight and asks senior S.H.I.E.L.D. official Alexander Pierce to delay the project.MV5BMjIzODY0NzA4NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODQwMDM0MTE@._V1_On his way to rendezvous with Maria Hill, Fury is ambushed by assailants led by a mysterious assassin called the Winter Soldier. Fury escapes to Rogers’ apartment, and warns Rogers that S.H.I.E.L.D. is compromised. After handing Rogers a flash drive containing data from the ship, Fury is gunned down by the Winter Soldier. Fury dies in surgery, and Hill recovers the body. The next day, Pierce summons Rogers to the Triskelion. When Rogers withholds Fury’s information, Pierce brands him a fugitive. Hunted by S.T.R.I.K.E., Rogers meets with Romanoff. Using data in the flash drive they discover a secret S.H.I.E.L.D. bunker in New Jersey, where they activate a supercomputer containing the preserved consciousness of Arnim Zola. Zola reveals that ever since S.H.I.E.L.D. was founded after World War II, Hydra has secretly operated within its ranks, sowing global chaos with the objective of making humanity willing to surrender its freedom in exchange for security. The pair narrowly escape death when a S.H.I.E.L.D. missile destroys the bunker, and realize that Pierce is Hydra’s leader within S.H.I.E.L.D.MV5BNDQzMjcwMzA0NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjIwMDM0MTE@._V1._CR1,116,932,390_Rogers and Romanoff enlist the help of former USAF pararescueman Sam Wilson, whom Rogers befriended, and acquire his powered “Falcon” wingpack. Deducing that S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Jasper Sitwell is a Hydra mole, they force him to divulge that Zola developed a data-mining algorithm that can identify individuals who might become future threats to Hydra’s plans. The Insight Helicarriers will sweep the globe, using satellite-guided guns to eliminate these individuals. Rogers, Romanoff, and Wilson are ambushed by the Winter Soldier, who kills Sitwell. During the fight, Rogers recognizes the Winter Soldier as Bucky Barnes, his friend who was captured and experimented upon during WWII. Hill manages to extract the trio to a safehouse where Fury, who had faked his death, is waiting with plans to sabotage the Helicarriers by replacing their controller chips.MV5BMTk0NDI5ODQwNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMjIwMDM0MTE@._V1._CR1,116,933,389_After the World Security Council members arrive for the Helicarriers’ launch, Rogers broadcasts Hydra’s plot to everyone at the Triskelion. Romanoff, disguised as one of the Council members, disarms Pierce. Fury arrives and forces Pierce to unlock S.H.I.E.L.D’s database so that Romanoff can leak classified information, exposing Hydra to the public. Following a struggle, Fury kills Pierce. Meanwhile, Rogers and Wilson storm two Helicarriers and replace the controller chips, but the Winter Soldier destroys Wilson’s suit and fights Rogers on the third. Rogers fends him off and replaces the final chip, allowing Hill to take control and have the vessels destroy each other. Rogers refuses to fight the Winter Soldier in an attempt to reach his friend, but as the ship collides with the Triskelion, Rogers is thrown out into the Potomac River. The Winter Soldier rescues the unconscious Rogers before disappearing into the woods. With S.H.I.E.L.D. in disarray, Romanoff appears before a Senate subcommittee and Fury, under the cover of his apparent death, heads to Eastern Europe in pursuit of Hydra’s remaining cells. Rogers and Wilson decide to find the Winter Soldier, while Rumlow, who was a double agent for Hydra, is hospitalized following the Triskelion’s destruction.MV5BMjExMDA3Nzc1N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTMwMDM0MTE@._V1_In a mid-credits scene, Baron Wolfgang von Strucker, at a Hydra lab, proclaims that the “age of miracles” has begun as scientists examine an energy-filled scepter and two prisoners: one with superhuman speed, the other with telekinetic powers. In a post-credits scene, the Winter Soldier visits a Bucky memorial at the Smithsonian Institution.MV5BMTQxNDc0MjM4M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMDc0MDI5MDE@._V1_SX1500_CR0,0,1500,999_AL_Seeing Cap and Black Widow banter about his dating life,  plays on the established chemistry between Evans and Johansson, working both the humor and the inherent pathos that defines their roles. That Mackie and Redford both effortlessly slide into this established dynamic is testament to what skilled performers they are. There is also some nice continuity to having the same writers return from The First Avenger to craft its sequel. There are plenty of parallels and callbacks here. when  watched back to back, you not only get to appreciate the original more, but enjoy how they connect.