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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

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1999: The Matrix

The Matrix - Screenshot of the famous GLMatrix...

Image via Wikipedia

It was a tough choice to select the Monumental Movie of 1999, what with there being so many brilliant movies from this year. However, I made the decision to go with The Wachowski Brothers’ classic, The Matrix. Although to many, it may just be seen as another action-packed gun-fest, this is not the case at all. The Matrix, starring Keanu Reeves as Neo, Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus, and Carrie-Anne Moss as Trinity, focuses around a computer hacker, Neo, who soon learns that the life he has seemingly been living all along, isn’t what he thought it was, and in fact, was all an artificial life, in which his mind had been trapped within. Morpheus, awakes Neo to this realisation, right after one of many famous scenes from this movie – the choice between the red pill, and the blue pill; whether he wakes up to the bleak reality that is, or to stay in his fake world that isn’t real – The Matrix.

Neo soon comes to witness the reality that is, a dark world, overtaken by The Machines, who are artificially breeding humans as an energy source for their sentient, yet mechanical existence. A small human rebellion that remains hidden on Earth, living in the city of Zion, are all that’s left, in the war between humans and machines. Neo, along with the rest of the team, must go back in to the Matrix, in order to destroy The Agents, a set of incredibly powerful computer programs, with the primary objective of destroying Neo and the remainder of the human race.

This movie is full of classic scenes. In fact, almost every scene of this movie is a classic, but a few of the ones which stand out a little more than the rest include the bank vault shoot-out. This is one of the scenes that revolutionised the action genre – shooting the crap out of the bad guys, whilst in slow-motion, doing crazy flips and cartwheels and shit. Proof that this movie appeals to our adrenanline-filled, gun-toting manic side, as well as our sc-fi nerdy sides. The scene where Neo is waiting to speak to the Oracle (the now deceased, Gloria Foster), where he has a conversation with one of the other ‘potentials’, a young child, is probably the most defining scene of the movie. The young, gifted child makes Neo realise that anything is possible, with the line ‘there is no spoon.’, which indicates that in the Matrix, nothing exists, but his mind, and so he must change only himself.

The movie ends with Neo and Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) fist-fighting to the death. Smith appears to have won, but Neo, having finally learnt the true nature of what the Matrix really is, rises up, and destroys Smith, combining himself with Smith, becoming more powerful than ever imagined. The war isn’t over yet, but now the Humans have a better chance than ever in the war to reclaim the Earth that once was theirs.

Now, although this may sound similar to movies such as The Terminator, what with Humans vs Machines and what not, and that it just seems like another action-packed movie, there really is so much more to it. Although movies such as Fight Club question our sanity, and movies such as American Beauty tackle the dramatic and life-defining aspects of life, The Matrix, questions life, and our existence. Yes, it has a science-fiction basis to it, but it opens our minds up and allows us to think ‘outside the box’ in such a way, which many other movies have not managed to do. The Matrix, revolutionised movies; it was the first of its kind. The classic line, “There is no spoon.” signifies this aspect, focusing on the idea of what is and isn’t real, and that with the brilliant capacity of our minds, anything is possible. It is one of those amazing movies that inspire us, as humans, to strive to be more than just ordinary, and to realise that we have the potential to be whoever we want to be. This movie has the power that so many movies do not hold, to make us evaluate our ideas on what we perceive to be real, and what reality is.  This is definitely a complex movie, but one that you need to watch.

By Manpreet Singh