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.

 

REVIEW: DJANGO UNCHAINED

CAST

Jamie Foxx (Dreamgirls)
Christopher Waltz (The Green Hornet)
Leonardo DiCaprio (Critters 3)
Kerry Washington (Save The Last dance)
Samuel L. Jackson (The Avengers)
Walton Goggins (The Bourne Identity)
Dennis Christopher (Angel)
James Remar (X-Men: First Class)
Don Johnson (Machete)
Amber Tamblyn (Two and a Half Men)
M.C. Gainey (Lost)
Tom Wopat (Jonah Hex)
Jonah Hill (Cyrus)
Zoe Bell (Oblivion)
Michael Bowen (Jackie Brown)
Robert Carradine (Timecop 2)
James Parks (Death Proof)
Michael Parks (Red State)
Michael Bacall (Gangster Squad)
Evan Parke (Alias)
John Jarratt (Wolf Creek)
Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction)
J.D. Evermore (Cloak & Dagger)
Rex Linn (The Postman)
Ned Bellamy (Terminator: TSCC)
Gary Grubbs (Battleship)

In Texas in the year 1858, the Speck brothers, Ace and Dicky, drive a group of black slaves on foot. Among the shackled slaves is Django, sold off and separated from his wife, Broomhilda von Shaft. The Speck brothers are stopped by Dr. King Schultz, a German dentist-turned-bounty hunter from Düsseldorf, who asks to buy one of the slaves. When he questions Django about his knowledge of the Brittle brothers, a group of outlaws for whom Schultz is carrying a warrant, Ace becomes irritated and threateningly aims his shotgun at Schultz. Schultz, a superior gunslinger, immediately kills Ace in return and leaves an injured Dicky at the mercy of the newly freed slaves, who kill him and follow the North Star to freedom.doubletrouble_0As Django can identify the Brittle brothers, Schultz offers Django his freedom in exchange for help tracking them down. After hunting down the Brittles, the liberated Django (who adopted the surname “Freeman”) partners with Schultz through the winter and becomes his apprentice, and Schultz discovers that Django has a natural talent of being an incredible crack shot. Schultz explains that he feels responsible for Django since Django is the first person he has ever freed, and felt more obliged to help Django (whom he described as a “real-life Siegfried”) reunite with Broomhilda. Django, now fully trained, collects his first bounty, keeping the handbill for good luck.

In 1859, Django and Schultz travel to Mississippi, where they learn the identity of Broomhilda’s owner: Calvin J. Candie, the charming but cruel owner of the Candyland plantation, where slaves are forced to fight to the death in brutal wrestling matches called “Mandingo fights”. Schultz, expecting Candie will not sell Broomhilda if they ask for her directly, feigns interest in purchasing one of Candie’s prized fighters for far more than the normal price. Schultz and Django meet Candie at his gentleman’s club in Greenville and submit their offer. Intrigued, Candie invites them to his ranch at Candyland. After secretly briefing Broomhilda, Schultz claims to be charmed by the German-speaking Broomhilda and offers to buy her.MV5BMTk4NzQwODM5MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjgzNTI3Nw@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1486,1000_AL_During dinner, Candie’s staunchly loyal house slave, Stephen, becomes suspicious of Schultz and Django’s motives. Deducing that Django and Broomhilda know each other previously and that the sale of the Mandingo fighter is a ruse, Stephen alerts Candie and admonishes him for his greed. Candie is angered at being fooled and having his time wasted, but contains his anger long enough to theatrically display his knowledge of phrenology, which he uses to theorize why the slaves have failed to kill their oppressors, despite ample opportunity. Candie’s bodyguard, Butch Pooch, bursts into the room with his shotgun trained on the two bounty hunters, and Candie explodes in anger, threatening to kill Broomhilda. He offers an alteration of the original deal, with Broomhilda taking the Mandingo fighter’s place at the same price, and threatens her death should the deal be rejected. After business appears concluded, Candie insists that the deal be sealed through a handshake, which Schultz initially refuses but eventually appears to concede. However, Schultz snaps and kills Candie with a concealed derringer. Butch shoots Schultz dead and Django kills him in turn, and an extensive gunfight in the mansion between Django and Candie’s henchmen ensues. Django guns down a great number of his opponents, but surrenders when Broomhilda is taken hostage.

The next morning, Stephen tells Django that he will be sold to a mine and worked to death. En route to the mine, Django proves to his escorts that he is a bounty hunter by showing them the handbill from his first kill. He convinces them that there is a large bounty for criminals hiding at Candyland, and promises that they would receive the majority of the money. The escorts release him and give him a pistol, and he kills them before stealing a horse and returning to Candyland with a bag of dynamite.

Returning to the plantation, Django kills more of Candie’s henchmen, takes Broomhilda’s freedom papers from the dead Schultz’s pocket, bids goodbye to his late friend and frees Broomhilda from a nearby cabin. When Candie’s mourners return from his burial, Django kills the remaining henchmen and Candie’s sister Lara Lee Candie-Fitzwilly, releases the two remaining house slaves, and kneecaps Stephen. Django then ignites the dynamite that he has planted throughout the mansion, and he and Broomhilda watch from a distance as the mansion explodes with the incapacitated Stephen inside, before riding off together.MV5BOTA2NjY5NzY3NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNzcyNjY4Nw@@._V1_A brilliant movie. Very entertaining and I loved it. We don’t get many westerns any more so this was a welcome addition to the genre. Tarantino is of course well known for the violence in his films, which renders them as not being for the squeamish, but on top of that they usually feature touches of levity to brighten up the more grisly proceedings. Above all he assembles highly accomplished actors and good stories with some great lines. The cinematography is superb and the music excellent. Oh, and there is some wonderful horsemanship. An excellent film which can be highly recommended.