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Captain America: The First Avenger – Verdict

Captain America: The First Avenger is the latest Marvel comic-to-movie release, and the final movie tie-in with the hugely anticipated The Avengers, which is due for release on 4th May next year. The story revolves around Steve Rogers, played by Chris Evans (Fantastic Four) – a young man who has failed to gain entry into the military service numerous times, mostly thanks to his asthma and general physical attributes. However, his determination and perseverance keep him going long enough for someone to notice him – Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci, The Lovely Bones). Dr Erskine notices Rogers, and offers him the opportunity he’s been struggling to find. Enter Captain America – a chemically-enhanced super soldier, fighting for America and everything it stands for.

Now, although I haven’t read any of the comics associated with Captain America, after having done a little research into it, and having asked reliable sources, the general structure of the storyline and character seems to match the comics quite well, going along the same, main lines. The movie is set in the 1940’s, in particular, during the World War 2 period. The main villain is a man named Johann Schmidt, also known as the Red Skull (Hugo Weaving), a man associated with Adolf Hitler, who is head of a secret research department known as HYDRA in Nazi Germany.

The storyline was actually quite a strong one, detailing Rogers before his enhancement, as a wimpy, below-average build man, who, although is ignored by everyone, is always determined, never giving up. As he is perhaps the most determined and brave person Dr Erskine has seen, he selects him to take part in Project Rebirth. Due to this reason, the beautiful Peggy Carter also takes an interest in him, played by Hayley Atwell.

I have to say, along with the strong and developing storyline, I particularly enjoyed the sub-story, of the relationship between Steve and Peggy, and how even though they are on opposite ends of the spectrum (nerdy, wimpy to graceful, beautiful), Peggy still takes an interest in Steve…and even more so after his transformation. It’s interesting to watch the relationship between the two, and see how it progresses; and even though many parts of the storyline, if not most, are quite predictable, it’s still enjoyable to watch the progression.

Another thing most Marvel flicks tend to infuse into their movies is comedy. And in the case of this movie, is generally worked. There were a range of comical scenes in the movie, and they manage to actually make you laugh. From stupid comedy to sarcasm, it works well with this movie. The role of Colonel Chester Phillips played by Tommy Lee Jones, in particular was quite enjoyable from a comical aspect, being the rough colonel-type character you’d expect, yet being humourous through sarcastic and blunt means.

I was expecting this movie to boast about the US in a patriotic manner as much as possible, but I was quite surprised to see it didn’t really do this much. Other than the American-themed costume, there wasn’t really any huge biased message, trying to make America seem better than every other country (well, no more biased than the usual amount in other movies anyway). And the scenes, along with the feelings to the scenes matched the year they were set in well, making you feel like you were actually experiencing a story set in the 1940’s, giving a good, nostalgic feeling.

Now, being the movie that this is, I was expecting huge action scenes. However, I was somewhat disappointed on this aspect. Don’t get me wrong, the action scenes were good, and I enjoyed the way Captain America smashed the bad guys around, socking it to ’em with his harder-than-hard shield (definitely want one of these), along with the rest of the action; however, none of it striked me as anything spectacular. This somewhat disappointed me, as I also felt that a lot of action scenes which could have been great were rushed quite a bit, though I suppose there was a more of a focus on the storyline in this movie, as opposed to the action – though this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, providing the movie can pull of a decent storyline. Luckily this movie did, keep you interested throughout; although, being the movie that it is, I would have enjoyed some more spectacular action. Although again, I suppose there is a limit to what you can do with a pistol, shield and optimum human power…

The enjoyable storyline continued right through to the end, with what I thought to be quite a good ending. I won’t say anymore as I don’t want to give anything away, except for that it manages to suitably tie-in with The Avengers at the end. And to those of you with little patience like me, I know it’s hard work, sitting through the credits which seem to go on forever, but there is an Avengers-themed surprise after the credits, which I’m sure many of you expected; although a lot of people at the cinema showing I went to seemed to forget that this movie ties in with The Avengers, running off as soon as the movie finished. But stay right till the end.

To sum up, although I’m sure this would be a much more enjoyable watch for you Captain America fans, I still found this to be quite an enjoyable movie. With a good storyline, decent action sequences, and enjoyable, and somewhat unique sub-plots to it, it was worth a watch. Remember, this is coming from a person who never read the comics, and had no expectations of this movie before watching it. I felt it was also a good lead-up to what will indeed be a spectacular movie, The Avengers – I mean, after all, Captain America is The First Avenger.

iHartMovies Rating: 3.8/5

By Manpreet Singh


New Shots Of Batman, Bane and Batpod From The Dark Knight Rises Set

Some of you may see these images as possible plot spoilers, so be wary.

New photos from the set of the hugely anticipated The Dark Knight Rises have hit the net. A few images have been revealed, featuring an image of Batman (Christian Bale) alongside Bane (Tom Hardy). Check out the image of the two brawling with each other on-set:

Here’s an image of the Batpod for the upcoming Batman finale in Christopher Nolan’s trilogy:

Here is another image, of the caped crusader on-set, in full costume:

Pretty exciting stuff, huh? Here is a small video of an apparent explosion in a prison riot on the set, too:

Here is another recent image, depicting a battle between Batman and Bane. As you can see, there are police officers and prisoners fighting amidst them, so it may be a scene which is part of a huge prison break caused by Bane:

Exciting stuff indeed. Keep an eye out on the latest Batman news. The Dark Knight Rises is set to hit cinema screens on 20th July, 2o12.

By Manpreet Singh

No Copyright Infringement is intended with any of the above images or videos.


New Image Of Bane On-Set from ‘The Dark Knight Rises’

A new image of ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ villain, Bane has hit the net! The big man, who isn’t too keen on Batman, is being played by Tom Hardy (Inception, Bronson), and new images of him on-set and in his costume in Pittsburgh have been released. Check out the one I thought to be the best glimpse, below:

So, what do you reckon? Intimidating or what? You wouldn’t wanna cross this guy in a dark alley. Tom Hardy, who became especially popular after his portrayal of the character Eames in Christopher Nolan’s 2010 hit Inception, has reportedly gained 30lbs in weight in order to play the venom-filled beast who is apparently set to deal big damage to the Dark Knight in the upcoming third and final Batman installment from Christopher Nolan (who just turned 41 yesterday, if you didn’t know). Shooting is currently taking place in Pittsburgh, with numerous images and videos being caught, including this video of a few Tumblers getting ready for action:

Looks awesome, don’t you think? There appears to be three Tumblers, each with a slight difference to them. Has Bane managed to get his hands on them? Or is Batman just calling on ol’ pal Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) to get behind the wheel again? Or is there a totally different explanation?

Numerous others have been seen on set, too, including Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Blake and Marion Cotillard as Wayne Enterprise Board Member and possible love interest to Bruce Wayne, Miranda Tate. Much more will be heading our way soon, so keep an eye out for constant updates.

The Dark Knight Rises is set to hit cinema screens on 20th July, 2012…less than a year away!

By Manpreet Singh


2001: A.I. Artificial Intelligence

Artifical Intelligence, in my opinion, is a classic movie. A visual masterpiece from Steven Spielberg, this movie is set in the near future, in which the manufacturing of robots occurs; but these aren’t any type of robots, but advanced, realistic, life-like robots (named mechas), which have been programmed to be as human as possible. However, although many types were manufactured, they still lacked some of the main elements that truly make a human, human, with one in particular – emotion. However, a further advanced prototype robot was created, called David (Haley Joel Osment) – a robot, created in the image of a young child, which has the ability to have emotions, in particular, the emotion of love towards his mother, Monica (Frances O’Connor), who adopted him as a substitute for her child who is in cryostasis due to having an incurable disease.

Problems begin to arise within the family, as a cure had been created for the child in stasis, meaning that he is able to return back home, and as a result, both David, and his now step-brother, Martin, feel obliged to compete for their mother’s love. Through this, Martin tricks David into doing several things which would make him appear unsafe to have as a ‘son’, and so Monica decides to return David back to the factory at which he was created, to be destroyed. However, a permanent imprint from Monica was put into David as she decided to permanently keep him, and being destroyed would be the only way to remove this imprinting. But David shows such genuine emotion towards her, even calling her mommy, to the extent that she cannot bear to have him destroyed, and so she drives him out to the woods and leaves him there. All the while, David, producing child-like emotions, becomes scared and worried, wondering why he has been abandoned by his mother, before wandering further into the woods.

David remembers a book his mother once read him before bed, the story of Pinocchio, and how the Blue Fairy granted wooden Pinocchio the wish of becoming a real boy. David, wanting nothing but the unconditional love of his mother, goes in search of the Blue Fairy, along the way, meeting countless different types of mechas, who have human appearances. He realises they are all discarded robots, and are being captured for recycling. Luckily, with the help of a few friendly and caring robots, including a robot programmed to please women – Gigolo Joe (Jude Law) manage to help. Joe decides to tag along with David, leading him to Rouge City, where Joe is convinced he will find the Blue Fairy.

The movie continues through a visually stunning, emotion-provoking futuristic journey, before David finds the Blue Fairy, only to be told it isn’t real by Professor Allen Hobby (William Hurt) – the man in charge of the company, Cybertronics, who created young David. David, in an attempt to escape from pursuers, travels underwater in an Amphibicopter, to an underwater city, which is in fact Coney Island. He becomes stuck in some rubble, but in the distance, sees a statue of a Blue Fairy. Two thousand years pass, and David is still there, staring at the fairy, before he is suddenly found and taken out of the water by an Alien species. This species has the ability to bring people back, but they need a DNA sample. David reveals he has a strand of hair from Monica, which he cut off her head (one of the things Martin made him to do try to get him into trouble).

His mother is brought back, and as David wished, he has been granted the wish by the mysterious yet graceful species, to become a real boy. However, the downside is that such resurrected people, as his mother, can only be brought back for a day. David finally lives a life in the day of a human, with his mother Monica, having the best day he has ever witnessed, laying with his mother at the end of the night, as she “falls asleep”…

This movie is perhaps one of the most realistically advanced movies I have ever seen. Throughout the movie, you can tell how much effort has been put into it, not only through the amazing special effects that have been used, providing brilliant visuals, but through the simple, yet brilliant storyline, adapted from the story of Pinocchio, ironically, being brought to life, in this beautifully crafted movie. There isn’t a lot of dialogue in this movie in comparison to most other movies, but such an amount is not required. The majority of this movie is heavily carried forward through its beautiful visuals, emotions, and its storyline, which even provokes emotions in the audience, as do the mysteriously eerie, yet brilliant futuristic representations.

However, the acting in this movie, especially on Osment’s part, is brilliant. How he manages to appear as an actual robot who has emotions, and being able to present these emotions in such a clear and strong manner, is spectacular. Throughout the whole movie, you actually feel as if he is a robot, determined to become a human. Ironic, that he has determination, something a human would have.

The main thing about this movie, though, is its representations of emotions, upon which it focuses on massively. It not only addresses the philosophy of emotions, connecting it to a sentient being, but also delves into these emotions, opening them up, and immersing you into them, through the movie and great acting.  Throughout the whole movie, it provokes your emotions, making you feel the suitable emotions that are being focused on in each given scene of the movie. It reflects our emotions as humans, through a being that isn’t actually human, in such a way that it makes you think about emotions, and what is actually is to be human. The idea of a robot feeling emotions digs even deeper into other topics of debate, including those of God and religion, and the value of life, and not just human life.

This is one of the most defining movies I have seen. One which definitely keeps you feeling a range of emotions throughout the movie, and thinking afterwards. A fantastic production, with a great cast, allowing a range of emotions to be provoked throughout – something a great movie should be able to do.

By Manpreet Singh


What Is The Best Zombie Film? Part 3

Zombies as portrayed in the movie Night of the...

Image via Wikipedia

Well if you’re reading this I thank you for coming this far and reading my view of the best zombie films to have hit our big screens. One common occurrence between zombie film followers is obvious thought on future films. The evolution from the first original zombie film, thought to be White Zombie, directed by Victor Halperin in 1932, has been dramatic. This is not particularly noticed unless you have researched or are just a big fan of the living dead; however the transformation from what us, as a modern generation recognise as a zombie compared to back then is phenomenal.

Earlier zombie flicks saw the source of the change from human to zombie, usually done through black magic or some kind of sorcerer, as where the original term of zombie came from. However, over the years this has changed to bites off of mutant animals (Braindead) to viral infections that are spread in different ways. Almost every zombie movie needs to have a spreading virus through bites; however other rules are slightly different. For example Dawn of The Dead (2004); an open wound caused by a zombie was enough for the individual to reanimate into the walking dead. As discussed previously, Night of the Living Dead had a more spiritual, and confusing, conversion where any kind of death leads down the path of becoming a human chomper.

So my next film uses both the modern running zombies along with the viral infection that starts it all, in this case known as the Rage virus. Yes you have guessed it, 28 Days Later used real fear factor along with realistic issues in such an apocalypse. Little moments in this film may have seemed boring to some; however Danny Boyle’s direction expressed complications that would arise, such as shaving or emptying your bowels when there is no working water or toilet facilities. The story follows Jim, played by Cillian Murphy (Batman Begins, Red Eye), a seemingly average Joe who wakes up from a coma to find himself in a completely deserted World. Again, this film really captures some realistic scenes, in an apocalyptic world, that really makes this picture a vivid one.

Jim’s first walk out into the newly dead United Kingdom is a truly incredible sight to be seen; Jim walking down a clear motorway, it’s almost an oxymoron.  I admit there isn’t a huge amount of zombie feeding frenzy scenes, however the chase scenes really get you on the edge of your seat; you may just fall off. We are also exposed to the army’s false promises and sexual brutality towards the women of the group. These may be controversial but are extremely real issues that I believe would arise from such a situation. Due to this, people may argue it is not the best zombie film around; we all crave gore scenes, however it is a brilliant film on its own.

As with most films that hit success, a sequel to the 2002 hit followed in 2007. The director was changed to Juan Carlos Fresnadillo but maintained its location in London. My favourite bit to the whole film is literally the opening scenes. We see yet another controversial but real situation of a husband having to choose between saving his family which would most probably lead to a certain death, or technically not, or following the every man for himself philosophy. This is followed by an intense scene of a mass of the living dead at full sprint speed. I felt this was a good film; I won’t lie, I did enjoy it, however there seemed to be something missing. I genuinely cannot put my finger on it, maybe it’s because it followed such a film in 28 days; however I must emphasise it was definitely worth a watch.

This next film I will keep brief as I feel inclined not to comment too much for a few reasons; I was falling asleep as I watched it, it is/was subtitled, and I have only seen one out of the trilogy. Rec is a Spanish zombie thriller shot from a television reporter in a confined building where the outbreak of a virus incurs. That very brief description sounds like this film has the key ingredients towards a blockbuster, or even a brain-buster? Many of you may have seen the apparent remake of the film, known as Quarantine, and as the US title exclaims, I love the concept of being trapped in a single building whilst creeps are trying to bite you. There are some good aspects of this film, certain scenes are admirable and the shaky camera adds to the effect. I just feel more could have been done with both films. There is a superb scenario, however it just seems that Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza, co-directors and writers, ran out of ideas.

I had a think back before writing this post, to the last zombie film I actually viewed at the cinema. Again, this film has a slightly different take on zombies, in fact I would not be surprised if many of you didn’t consider them to be zombies. The Crazies, is another George A. Romero classic, 1973; however I have only seen the remake in 2010. Starring Timothy Olyphant as our sheriff David, the explanation behind these zombies was a biological weapon which is accidentally released onto a small town. Again, I am satisfied that Romero allowed for a cause for the outbreak, unlike Dawn of the Dead (2004). The biological weapon is still a virus, however the infected are rather different to our classic zombie. Flesh eaters are the wrong term in this case, however our zombies are more homicidal in different manners, such as burning houses with their own families in.

As stated previously, many viewers may not count these as zombies; however what’s not to say they are a more evolved species of our close carnivorous cousins? There has been a change in zombies throughout the years, so why can’t we say this will be the way that they go. I did enjoy the film however as I say with so many other films, I feel that a lot more could have been done. A lot more scare scenes whilst keeping the balance of the ever-changing relationships between characters. Am I really asking too much? There are some gripping scenes in the film and I would recommend a watch, however I will cut short the rest of my review purely for the fans who want something closer to what we all know and love as our zombie.

To be completely honest, my favourite kind of zombie are the ones found in 28 Days Later or the modernised Dawn of The Dead, therefore the runners. Running zombies means chase scenes. Chase scenes lead to high adrenaline rush, that is what people want from a film, especially under this genre. Feeling that emotion of screaming at the television to try to offer a hand of help to escape is what brings a movie to life. These moments are a factor into helping a zombie film hit the jackpot. So to wrap up my review I will finish on a well thought out zombie thriller that was released recently, however not as a film.

Dead Set is a five episode television series written by pessimistic comedian Charlie Brooker. I actually don’t find Brooker funny, more like a worse version of Jack Dee. However, this BAFTA nominated series was brilliant in many ways. The original series released in 2008 really got me excited and I maintained that I watch it every night for five nights running. The story is set in the Big Brother house, where the contestants of the recent series take refuge from the outbreak on the London streets. There is small wit added into the carnage of this action-packed and quite frankly, drama-packed series. We see frayed relationships and different personalities emerge, and eaten, throughout each episode, which adds to the realism of such a situation.

I feel like this was really a surprising phenomenon. The series is one of the best zombie franchises I have seen. Conflict is given to the characters, whether to save others or be selfish to ensure survival, which is always controversial but is an actual choice in so many situations. It’s one of those times in life that someone may say what they would do given that choice, however we all know that they don’t even know what they would do. Again, this series plays with the viewer’s emotions from heart-racing chase scenes to anger towards certain characters and even to sadness at the loss of others. To top it all off, Brooker finishes his story in such an emotional fashion unlike so many other zombie masterpieces.

If you haven’t seen it already I would definitely make sure you do. Channel 4 publicised this series a decent amount before its release and therefore really helped promote the zombie genre. However, with this brilliant series I will bring my writing to a close. I foremost would like to apologise if there are any films that you consider to be top end of the genre and missed in my three-part write-up, however I would love to see more titles so please inform me so I can give them a watch.

Overall I do not think I can answer what is officially the best zombie film of all time; we love each film for different reasons. There are so many terrific, gory, heart in mouth moments in each film I have mentioned, with the odd humour to break the surface. All I can really say is that let’s all hope that more films are made to satisfy the fans of this long going genre, and that the evolution goes in a satisfying direction. Thank you for reading and stay safe; always know your zombie plan.

By Ash Seward-Morris


Yu-Gi-Oh 10th Anniversary Bonds Beyond Time

Well as some of you more hardcore anime fans will know, Yu-Gi-Oh defined an era of anime similar to how Pokemon did in the 1990’s within western society. As the title says, Yu-Gi-Oh has been around for about ten years and has become the best-selling TCG card game in the world. The anime is based on the original manga, which translates to ‘Game King’ or ‘King of Games’, written by Kazuki Takahashi. Personally myself, I have only watched the original anime that launched the phenomena it is today played by adults and children alike across the world. Since then, there has been two more adaptations of Yu-Gi-Oh with new characters and new story lines, but it still revolved around the card game. Most people see these as poor adaptations that never recaptured the magic and charm of the original, both on story line and character development.

Well, getting on to the review of the film, I am personally a huge fan of the card game playing for many years, and due to this I have been looking forward to this film for a long time; but my God how it disappointed me. Personally, by my belief, this film was lazy more than anything; it dives straight into the film with absolutely no plot development. This is bad, due to new viewers who have no insight to the Yu-Gi-Oh world getting lost in the plot (or lack thereof) as soon as the film starts.  The film throws you straight into an action-packed sequence, giving you a false sense of hope for the film as well as a poor representation of the TV show. The first character seen is introduced with no introduction or name, just assuming you will know who this character is; and this goes for all characters throughout the film.

Well I have given a fair description of the film but if I really wanted to go in to the negatives there are many, with few positives. So let’s go into some of these, in my personal opinion, positives of this film. This film was made in 3D and high-definition, making it very pleasing on the eye as well as some clear crisp animation. The music fluctuates throughout the film, being appropriate for most scenes with some epic music to fit action scenes. But in the odd occasion throughout the film the music was harsh on the ears as well as not fitting the scene itself.  The major action scene in the film is a card game or ‘duel’ which Yu-Gi-Oh is based upon, basically consisting of monsters called ‘duel monsters’ with power ups and traps. Within the anime, these monsters can be summoned through cards, and these monsters are projected on a field using a VR system. But in some scenarios, these monsters will be real, summoned from another world.

More information on the rules of the game can be found here: ‘http://yugiohmagic.tripod.com/id4.html’. The positives of this duel are that it’s very pleasing to someone who is familiar with the rules as well as the nostalgia of the anime. The downside of this, though is it throws newcomers to the anime right in the deep end; this is due to having no explanation of some of the monsters/card effects, as well as not explaining the rules of the game.

This film is highly unbelievable; yes, I know, magic monsters and ‘card games on motorcycles’ are highly unbelievable. But at least these are explained in the anime and follow some logic. But in several occasions across this film, the major characters just accept that time travel is both possible and logical, totally accepting it as well as showing no fear to this phenomena. One character goes as far to say ‘I am pumped about time travel’ after seeing a guy miraculously appear in front of him on a motorcycle, claiming to be from the future, and is there to save the world but needs his help. This guy jumps at the opportunity, showing complete trust and devotion to this cause with no explanation or convincing.

The main evil character in this film who himself, is trying to save the world with a flawed theory. His theory is that if he destroys the past the future may be saved. Flawed concept? I think so. This story plot is poorly conceived and poorly explained to the viewer. The generic evil guy, A ‘paradox’ being his actual name, has absolutely no character development, with no feeling evoked from him towards the viewer. All this character shows to the viewer is that he likes big motorcycles and has a clear dragon fetish with an appetite for destruction.

Now this section is going to talk about one of my little nick picks about this film and the anime as a whole, but seriously, do all these kids wake up on a morning and style their hair with multi coloured lead paint? You watch this film and are utterly blinded by the colourfulness and pointiness of their hair. These kids need a risk assessment doing for lead paint poisoning and having the ability to stab each other with their hair. I am not naive enough to think this is the only anime that has mad hair, but really, this anime takes it to the extreme.

Overall the film is extremely lazy and has no value for money with it only being 45 minutes long, with it being labelled as a ‘feature length film’. The ‘film’ has very little plot and NO character development whatsoever. This film maybe enjoyable for children who are hardcore fans of the anime; except for that, I would not recommend watching. As one of the characters said in this film as a building was collapsing on top of him,  ‘OH NO’!

By Richard Broadhead (with some input from a friend of mine, Anthony Ball)


Chuck Norris & John Travolta for Expendables 2?

The latest news has it that widely renowned actor John Travolta and ass-kickery legend, Chuck Norris are to take part in the upcoming, The Expendables sequel, The Expendables 2. The all-action, original adrenaline-fest had an all-star cast, consisting of: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Mickey Rourke, Steve Austin, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews and even a cameo from Arnold Schwarzenegger. It was confirmed by David Varod, who  is head of the movie studios in Bulgaria where the movie will be shot, who stated  the same characters would be back in the sequel, also mentioning Arnold Schwarzenegger, John Travolta, Chuck Norris, and Bruce Willis. As you can see, a completely muscle-packed cast. Although, kung-fu legend Li had not been mentioned in this list for the sequel.

 

Jean-Claude Van Damme, despite turning down a role in the first installment, will be playing one of the main bad guys in the upcoming sequel, which is said to start shooting in September. Although I haven’t seen the first one yet (completely gutted that I missed it at the cinema), this sequel, though I’m sure it won’t have the best storyline like the original, will be epic. I mean, this cast would be enough to get any action movie junkie excited in all ways humanly possible. And although Jet Li was not mentioned in the lineup for this movie, I really do hope he is in it; his nack for kicking the shit out of people is amazing. It’s just a shame that Liam Neeson won’t be in this…

The Expendables 2 is expected to hit cinema screens on 17th August, 2012.

By Manpreet Singh