“Captain America – The Winter Soldier” – Star-spangled badassery

captain america review logoUp until now I have had serious problems understanding the draw behind a character like Captain America. I understand his origins in the popular culture as a spin-off from the blatant patriotic propaganda, but looking at him simply in comic book superhero terms, I couldn’t understand why he’s such an important figure within the Marvel Universe. He’s not a god, he doesn’t really wield a weapon granting him superhuman powers, he can’t fly, he’s not immortal, he doesn’t own a cool suit of armor… He doesn’t really carry a weapon for the most part, but a shield, which from a logical standpoint is just absurd. All he can do is run, fight and throw his shield around… In the company of folks like Thor, The Hulk, or Iron-Man, he looks – well – puny and unimportant, at least in terms of the actual combat, which challenges the notion of Captain America being perceived as a superhero in the first place. Now, having seen “Captain America – The Winter Soldier” (and having re-watched for the third time “Captain America – The First Avenger”) I think I understand his place within this universe of gods, aliens, superheroes and monsters. Continue reading

“Starred Up” – Bad Will Hunting?

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Admittedly, I had a very limited understanding prior to seeing “Starred Up” yesterday, as I had only seen one trailer before. I knew it was supposed to be a gritty prison drama, which it was… And I had no idea what the title actually meant. Well, now I know and knowing is half the battle.

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Saturday Fright Night Fever #8 – “The Bay”

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As of 2014, there is definitely something to be said about the gimmick of ‘found footage’, especially in relation to the horror genre, which is well known for indulging the band-wagon mentality among the film makers. I don’t know exactly when and where the trend started, but it might be safe to assume that the first successful film in that sub-genre was “The Blair Witch Project”. Sure, one can argue “Cannibal Holocaust” doing that way earlier, but nevertheless it was the ‘noughties’ that brought the true onslaught of the found footage variety. Continue reading

“The Zero Theorem” – the epitome of self-indulgence

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The film opens with a long shot of space with some kind of black hole swallowing a galaxy in the very centre of the frame. The camera then slowly zooms out to reveal that what we’re looking at is a computer screen, in front of which sits naked and hairless Christoph Waltz. He’s not moving nor is he doing anything other than gripping a wireless controller, which looks like a re-appropriated toy. Having quickly scanned the background of that wide-angle take, I notice he’s sitting in a rundown church surrounded by a mess of steampunk-esque knick-knacks. And he just sits there looking at stars being eaten by darkness. And by that time, my suspicions as to what was to come were at an all-time high. Continue reading

Saturday Fright Night Fever #7 – “Paranormal Activity”

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Weirdly enough, my relationship with the entire “Paranormal Activity” series has been rather sparse… or I should say, inexistent. Somehow, due to some strange coincidences throughout the years, all of the now five instalments have come and gone well below my radar. Now, I’m not going to get bogged down in explaining my circumstances as a (at the time) young aspiring scientist with zero time on his hands, but the time has finally come for me to make amends and see what the hoopla was all about. Continue reading

“300: Rise of an Empire” – The Phantom Menace in sandals

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Back in 2007, when Zack Snyder dazzled the entire world with his ground-breaking ultra-stylized adaptation of Frank Miller’s graphic novel “300”, I think it was already set in stone there would come a time a sequel of sorts would see the light of day. After all, film-making in Hollywood is a business and any successful original idea has to be milked until dryness before being ultimately discarded… for a while, and then rebooted with hopes that the audiences, like hamsters, would have already forgotten. But then, how does one recreate a lightning in a bottle? Continue reading

“The Grand Budapest Hotel” – Magnificent, Hilarious, Bizarre…

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I believe the most common adjective employed to describe the film-making style of Wes Anderson’s would be quirky, or idiosyncratic. And it’s all fine with me, but I personally would go a step further and call it for what it is – mildly autistic. It’s not necessarily an indictment on my part, but rather a simple observation. Now, I am definitely not a world-renowned expert in Wes Anderson’s work, as only recently I have started colouring in the blank spot that was his filmography, but I am most assuredly a fan of his approach toward comedy. Contrary to what you’d usually see on the big screen nowadays, Wes Anderson’s films are always intellectually stimulating, visually rich, stylistically sound, meticulously shot and executed, (maybe not quite laugh-out-loud) funny, but subversive and filled with unforgettable dialogue. In that, “The Grand Budapest Hotel” – Anderson’s newest creation – is no different and quite cohesively positions itself within his entire body of work. Continue reading

Saturday Fright Night Fever #6 – “Curse of Chucky”

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I never cared much for Jason Voorhees… I used to find Michael Myers laughable… Freddy Krueger would only give me nightmares when I was a boy, but “Child’s Play” to this day can trigger some sort of a primal fear that would creep me out to no end. I remember (and these are not exactly fond recollections) how badly Chucky’s character could get under my skin – to the point of being physically afraid of my sister’s dolls… And I bet I’m not the only one with similar experiences. There was something peculiar about this baddie that spoke to my subconsciousness, and despite their progressively comedic character, all of the sequels shared that feature as well. I mean, I love those films and have rewatched them on multiple occasions, with the slight exception of “Seed of Chucky”, the now penultimate entry to the franchise, which I turned off halfway through – it was that boring. I have to admit I was somewhat excited when I first learned that Don Mancini (the writer of the entire series and the director of the last one) wanted to churn out another Chucky movie, but this time it was supposed to have more in common with the original, i.e. serious and scary. I couldn’t say ‘no’ to that… Continue reading

“Non-Stop” – a tasty home-made stew spiced with adrenaline

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I don’t believe I have had this much fun watching a pure action genre film since… I don’t know… …“Taken”, which conveniently enough also starred Liam Neeson in his full-blown bad-assery.  Bad-assdom? …Whatever… The point is that “Non-Stop” is a fun-to-watch well-paced thriller that will teleport you back to the late 80’s, or early 90’s when instead of superheroes, real men (very macho men at that) with guns were more than enough to save the world.  It is by no means a perfect film, but through solid craftsmanship and a suspenseful story-telling, it provides enough entertainment to keep your disbelief firmly suspended. Continue reading

Minireview: “Dallas Buyers Club”

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Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, “Dallas Buyers Club” was most likely conceived with the awards season in mind, as it checks all the necessary boxes to be officially considered ‘Oscar bait’, and it is never a good sign. Starring Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto, and Jennifer Garner, the film is a biographical piece about Ron Woodroof (McConaughey), a flesh-and-bone Texan who contracted HIV back in the mid-80’s when not only the treatment had not been properly developed, but the fact of being diagnosed with AIDS went hand in hand with being cast out to the margin of (a very conservative) society; Continue reading