Captain America: Civil War – World Premiere Trailer

American Sniper is an important film

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American Sniper is the film directed by Clint Eastwood about the life of Navy Seal Sniper, Chris Kyle. It stars Bradley Cooper as Kyle and Sienna Miller as Kyle’s wife, Taya. The film is based on the book of the same name by Chris Kyle.

American Sniper is not so much a biography as it is a character study of the pressures and trials that members of our military face on the battlefield as well as the challenges they face when they return home to their families. There are certainly events in the film that actually occurred to Kyle, but there are also scenes and characters that are amalgams of  other incidents. Some are factual and some are not. Some have criticized the film as an oversimplification of war and a glorification of Kyle. I don’t think that was the goal of the film. I took it as a film with 2 purposes: 1. to show the life and times of the ones who were the “boots on the ground” and 2. to show how their return home could be a crippling experience for both the soldier and his family.

The film follows Kyle as he decides to enlist, through his 4 tours of Iraq and the difficulties he had in reintegrating into his family when home. It opens with a scene that effectively shows the essence of his mission and the mental stress that could occur. Chris is perched on a roof, scoping out the path of a convoy through his rifle. He spots a man talking on a cell phone and reports him on his headset. He’s given the green light to use his discretion, but is unsure. His backup suggests that maybe he’s just talking to a girlfriend. The man leaves, but a few moments later a woman and a young boy appear in a doorway and walk toward the convoy. Kyle reports the duo and sees that the woman hands the boy something. No one can confirm his observation. He watches the woman and realizes it’s a grenade. He again gets the green light, but his backup warns him that he will be sent to prison for shooting a child if he is wrong. At this point the film cuts to a scene of Chris as a little boy on his first deer hunt with his father. Through several scenes we see how Chris’ upbringing has instilled a black and white morality  and has given him a strong sense of being willing to do what is necessary to protect others.

This is the crux of the film. The members of the military that Chris represents were given great latitude to make their own decisions about whether to act….or not. Either way, people died. The correct decision would save American lives. The incorrect decision could result in being sent to prison as a murderer. Regardless of what Chris Kyle decides to do, how does he live with the ramifications of that decision and then go out and do it again and again? 

We see Chris go through 4 tours of Iraq and how his reputation grows with each mission. He is referred to as “The Legend” among his peers and has the most kills of any sniper in American Military History. The film creates an adversary in the guise of Mustafa. He is supposedly a Syrian sniper who was an Olympic medalist and now works for the terrorists. (In fact, Mustafa is only mentioned in one paragraph of Kyle’s book and Kyle says that he believes he was killed by another unit). 

Chris goes through difficult times when he returns home on leave and after his eventual discharge. He can’t enjoy ordinary life and is unable to verbalize his feelings to his family. He grows increasingly distant and may have the beginnings of tendency towards violence. It affects his relationships and is on the verge of threatening his marriage. Eventually Chris receives some counseling that helps him channels his need to protect and save people by talking with soldiers  through a VA hospital. (In fact, Kyle was quoted as saying that he never had any bad feelings about what he did in the service. However, this does not diminish the need to bring awareness to a very tragic problem for many military personnel.)

Bradley Cooper does an incredible job in the role of Chris Kyle. He disappears in the role and his Oscar nomination is well deserved. The scenes between he and Sienna Miller as Taya are both touching and often heartbreaking as well. The battle scenes in Iraq are realistically constructed. The danger is palpable and the violence is shocking.

American Sniper is not a perfect film but it is an important one. It highlights the dangers to both our military and their families in these complicated times and helps to show why we can have conflicting feelings of pride and sadness in today’s world.

My rating for American Sniper: A

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Captain America: The Winter Soldier Review

Courtesy of Ron Davis.

Captain-America_510Ok folks, fresh off the grill here is my review on Captain America: The Winter Soldier. I think this is Marvel’s most thematically deep movie so far. It’s equal parts superhero, action and thriller. The moral questions that are asked in this film are very pertinent to the discussions that we see on our tv’s, read in our newspapers and hear on our radios. There are moments of humor but not really anything that takes you out of the film because its an obvious comedic set piece. I thought the choreography of the fight scenes were incredible. This is how I always imagined Cap’s fights flowed in the comics and some of the shots are exact reproductions of scenes in the comics. The screenplay for this movie is an original story that incorporates thematic elements from the classic Ed Brubaker run in the comics. It is a great screenplay and is very complimentary to the source material. My favorite sequences were the opening sequence and fight with Batroc (they did a great job of referencing the costume that Batroc wears in the comics). The scene in the Smithsonian Museum is also well done. The cast is impeccable and it was really a treat to see Robert Redford chewing the scenery with Samuel L. Jackson. Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansen have a great chemistry and Anthony Mackie is a wonderful addition to the ensemble. There are several easter eggs for Marvel Fans. True Believers will be happy to see Cap visit Peggy Carter at one point and will be excited to see Sharon (Agent 13) introduced in this film. I think the score to this film is superior to the first film and found it very enjoyable. WARNING: There are 2 (TWO) tag endings in the credit. The first occurs mid credits and provides some easter eggs for Avengers 2. The 2nd tag ending occurs at the very end of the credits and is an update on The Winter Soldier. A great, well thought out film and possibly the best superhero film since The Dark Knight. GO SEE IT!

The Avengers Movie Review

Have there been movie moments in your life in which you can remember the exact theater, who you saw it with, how old you were, and the movie itself has become legendary. Maybe it was Star Wars, or Raiders of the Lost Arc, Titanic or perhaps The Dark Knight? Well, I’ve just experienced this myself. This was a movie, that immediately after it was over, I knew that I had to see it again ASAP! In fact, I even took the next day off work so that I could see it again. That movie was “The Avengers”.

Anyone who’s read my reviews on our website has probably noticed that I have a soft spot for DC Comics. I’ve been reading them and collecting them since 1989. Now, I would read some Marvel Comics from time to time. I even collected a few, but most of those were the X-Men. I really wasn’t very familiar with Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, the Hulk, Hawkeye or Black Widow. They didn’t even have any cartoons that are worthy of mention. But here it is, 2012, and I really wish I had been an Avenger fan from the very beginning.

I love what Marvel has been doing with their superheroes. They know how to get the best creative talent, and make sure that each script is up to their standards and vision of their properties. They also realize that if each of their characters can do well in their own individual films, teaming them up in one film would be something special. The more I think about this movie, the more I want to see it again and again. And not just to see the actions of just one character, but to revisit a number of scenes featuring each member of the team.

Ultimately, this film is a testament to teamwork. Not only because of the story they are trying to tell, but also because of the efforts of every member of this film crew. The cast of the Avenger team made it seem as if they had been working together for years. The chemistry was electric and you could tell that they were all having fun. I believe that this can be attributed to the fact that every member has already portrayed their characters in a previous film. They’ve been in this Marvel Universe, took notes, and truly occupied the mindset of these amazing heroes. The only exception to this was Mark Ruffalo, who took over the role of Bruce Banner/aka the Hulk from Edward Norton who did The Incredible Hulk. He held his own among these greater than life characters and performances. The Hulk himself also stole the show in a number of hysterical scenes with Thor and Loki. However, the real star of this film is the film maker Joss Whedon.

It is so refreshing to have a geek film made by another geek. Someone who knows the history of comics, and realizes just how amazing a super hero film can be when done right. His script was brilliant and truly gave each and every character a time in the spotlight. His direction of the action scenes was masterful and kept me on the edge of my seat for the first time in a very long time. Each movie that has come out before this one has been a step towards an ultimate goal. This is the payoff we’ve been waiting for and boy was it worth the wait.

J.Chandler – A

Captain America Official Movie Trailer!

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Captain America! Harry Knowles says it better than anyone!

I found this article on Aintitcoolnews.com and honestly, I agree and could not say it any better. So I’m posting Harry Knowles article about Captain America. So may I preface this in saying “AMEN!” Enjoy!

I get a little pissed off when people denigrate CAPTAIN AMERICA. Of course, I am a 5th Generation Eagle Scout – that was born and raised in a Comic Book & Movie Collectibles business. CAPTAIN AMERICA is the soul of the Marvel Universe. He’s the constant reminder of the ideals of what the United States of America used to mean.

He came from an era, where our moral compass was solid. When there was true evil in the world and Captain America gave a generation that saw their fathers, uncles and older brothers go into battle against a technologically superior force, at least at the beginning. Cap was there in the pages, the spirit of the fight, he was Uncle Sam with fists to bash in the supernatural and super science perils that the Axis threw at us. He was fiction, but fiction that espoused a belief in the red, white and blue.

The world has changed, mostly America has changed. Our moral compass isn’t what it used to be. Today we fight amongst ourselves… Cap stands as a reminder that divided we fall. Something that has been entirely forgotten in our warring two party system.

Some cynical types consider Captain America “goofy” – thinking of him as a blind patriotic tool, but he isn’t. Captain America is the fighting spirit of the United States. He roots out evil, both foreign and domestic, and he fights to preserve and inspire the union in which he so believes. At least for me.

I certainly understand the current abuse of our American symbols, where we have people that wrap themselves in the American flag – without even the slightest understanding of what it means.

Today, PARAMOUNT / MARVEL has released the teaser poster for THE FIRST AVENGER: CAPTAIN AMERICA… and it is a somber piece. Mud and dirt exploding behind him. His shield with the paint war scarred. His helmet off and his head in mourning – and I find myself wondering what atrocity, Captain America is about to avenge, as the words state. Will we see BUCKY die in this film? I do not know, nor do I want to. I do know we’re going to see the RED SKULL do some pretty bad damage – and we certainly know what the Nazis are capable of. We know how much blood was spilt in WWII, so there’s a lot for the fighting spirit of America to pound into the dirt.

In my living room at my house, hanging for the last year and a half is my original CAPTAIN AMERICA serial one sheet from 1944. Right now – I ran my computer down to the dining hall where there’s about 8 WWII veterans, and I showed them the CAPTAIN AMERICA poster and it made them smile. I’d talked to George (my 93 year old roommate) about Cap – and he told me that every service man in the Navy, which was where he served, loved CAPTAIN AMERICA. His outrageous antics were discussed in bunks and each soldier kind of felt a little bit like Cap.

Maybe spending two and a half weeks geeking with these old timers has made me a bit more sentimental, but I doubt it. I love CAPTAIN AMERICA, just as I love the era from whence he sprouted. He was a national hero… a man, too sick to serve, but through super science became the pinnacle of physical perfection.

I for one, can not wait.

New Captain America, Lisbeth Salander Photos!

“Spider-Man” isn’t the only superhero getting a costume reveal today. We’ve seen sketches of it and glimpses of part of it, today though the first frontal photo of Chris Evans in full “Captain America” garb (complete with helmet and shield) has emerged online via Entertainment Weekly.

The verdict? Mixed. The straps and belt look surprisingly good and the outfit seems quite practical. It’s The ‘Captain’ touches though that seem silly – I can buy the painted on wings (not so much the ‘A’), the chest star isn’t bad but would’ve been better had it been pale grey. The shield though simply looks goofy no matter what way you paint it, and the blue is far too bright.

Could the issue be simply the color scheme? Check out this mockup I did with the version above on the left, and a more subdued and slightly different color palette on the right.