Tag Archives: Bad Guys

Dude Review: Captain America: The Winter Soldier

When I was training to be a newspaper reporter, I learned never to bury the lead. Which meant, always start with the most important stuff right up front.

Not in the second paragraph.

And certainly never in the third.

I am, however, willing to state here, in the fourth paragraph, uncategorically, that Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a fantastic, rip-roaring, rootin’-tootin’, bad-guy shooting, uplifting, side-splitting fantastically good movie.

I liked it, is what I’m trying to say.

I thought it would be difficult for any Marvel movie to surpass the wonder that is Marvel’s The Avengers, which I thought might have been one of the best movies of the decade at least. And, to be sure, CA: TWS, doesn’t surpass The Avengers, but it comes darn close.

Chris Evans returns as Steve Rogers, aka Captain America. Samuel L. Jackson is back as Nick Fury, while Scarlett Johansson also is back as Natasha Romanov, the Black Widow. They’re joined by Anthony Mackie, playing Sam Wilson, the Falcon, and a host of other folks, including Robert Redford as S.H.I.E.L.D. high-muckety-muck Alexander Pierce.

And they all — every single one of them — are fantastic in their role. The Black Widow, instead of being a girlfriend, or a pawn, or a sacrifice to make the male hero’s journey personal, is a formidable hero in her own right, facing down doubts and horrors from her past. She also benefits from the double-edged sword that is Captain America: She believes she can be better because Captain America believes she is better and she doesn’t want to let him down.

That’s only one of the things that makes Steve Rogers such a dangerous man.

Not only is the film well acted, but it’s filled with astonishing special effects, drastic fight scenes, Easter eggs too numerous to count (including the birth of at least two new villains, a certain tombstone near the end and namechecking the Sorcerer Supreme), and — believe it or not — an extended meditation on the idea of freedom versus security.

Following the events in New York, chronicled in Marvel’s The Avengers, S.H.I.E.L.D. is all set to step out and take over world security. This eagerness is making Captain America a bit wary as it seems S.H.I.E.L.D. wants to start killing people before they actually commit a crime.

Should Americans and, by extension, the world give up their freedoms to become safer from a world that now contains super soldiers, aliens, gods and ten-foot-tall rampaging rage monsters?

Unfortunately, it’s not a question that will get answered in this movie, because it turns out that the entire operation has been compromised by Hydra, the bad guys from the first Cap film. Which means that the entire notion is, prima fascia, a bad idea. It sort of deflates the argument I was having in my head there, but I applaud the movie for at least bringing it up.

I’m also amazed by the actual change displayed in this movie. In most action series, there’s a set status quo and, once the movie is over, no matter what happened in the previous two hours, everything is back to the way it started. Not so in this movie.

Things change. Structures and organizations you thought were permanent fixtures of the Marvel Cinematic Universe have been completely transformed.

And all this before the Winter Soldier hits the scene, himself stalking out of Captain America’s past with a secret that could shatter him without a fight.

So, yeah. It’s a great movie, not just a great superhero movie.

What I loved the most about this movie can be summed up in one amazing elevator ride.

Captain America is trying to leave the S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters after telling a powerful person no. He steps in the elevator. Two floors down, several men get on. Several floors after that, more rough and tough men come on. Eventually, the elevator is packed with roughboys and Captain America, who realizes what’s about to happen.

Instead of immediately smacking them all silly, Captain America first tries to settle the situation peacefully.

“Before we get started,” he says, “does anyone want to get out?”

The answer is no, so then he wipes the elevator floor with them in an amazing fight scene that’s worth the price of admission all by itself.

Go pay said price of admission and enjoy yourself. This is a fantastic movie for the family or anyone else who enjoys action movies with fun, adventure, laughs and a couple of moments of genuine sadness and deep emotion.

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Dude Review: Despicable Me 2

Short version: If you loved the first one, you’ll love going to see Despicable Me 2.

The filmmakers did a great job of remembering what made the first movie a success: Gru is his cantankerous self; his daughters, Margo, Edith and Agnes are sweet, aggressively ninja-ed and overloaded-sugar cute, respectively, Kyle the, uh?, dog?, is back and, yes, the Minions are back, playing a larger role than before. Which can only be a good thing.

In addition, Gru has a new job. As a former villain, he is in the perfect position to spot other villains. And so he is recruited to the Anti Villain League by it’s leader, Mr. Ramsbottom. Yes, really. Okay, yes, fine. It wasn’t the only thing that was juvenile about the movie. However, I defy you to find me another summer blockbuster that didn’t have something even more juvenile.

At least this movie had the virtue of being astonishingly funny. I was in danger of snorting Coke Zero through my nose several times during the flick and that doesn’t happen often.

Zippy the College Boy, Hyper Lad and I went with my wife, known to me at the time as She Who Must Be Trying Hard To Keep Looking Respectable With Coke Zero Squirting Out Of Her Nose, who delayed our viewing until Fourth of July so she could come to the show with us. That, dudes, says something about this movie.

Mostly what it says is that it’s appallingly great. I mean, it makes a lot of the other movies out this summer look like they weren’t even trying.

While I wish Ms. Wilde, the lead agent from the AVL, Gru’s reluctant partner and, a woman, had been a bit more substantial for the duration, rather than disappearing into the damsel-in-distress role during the finale, I still thought it was a nice movie for girls. Smart, funny and tough. Not to mention quite capable of kicking more than a little butt when they want. Not a bad thing to which they could aspire.

As is the norm for movies released lately, especially animated ones, Despicable Me 2 is offered in 2D and in 3D. I’d recommend you not waste your money on the 3D version. I did and wish I hadn’t. Other than a few of the standard shove things into the audience face for full comedic 3D effect, it didn’t do much.

On the plus column, there’s explosions, familial love, gooshy love, cute kids, Kyle the uh? dog?, bad guys, car chases and lots and lots and lots of Minions. (I really want a couple hundred of them roaming around my house. I’ve really been wanting a super-secret cave of Evilness working under the house and I have the feeling the Minions are just the lackeys to get it done.)

Of course, easily the best thing about the movie and the one thing that needs to be ported to real life, has to be the chip sombrero filled to the brim with guacamole. That thing was the bomb, yo. For reals.

On the minus column. . . Um. . . Well. . . Too short, maybe? Not much minus stuff there we haven’t already talked about.

It’s a good movie, yo. Check it out, you guys. And gals. And guys with gals.

Go see the flick. It’s a solid four dudes out of five (if only because it wasn’t perfect. I mean, I didn’t have free recliner seats in which to enjoy the show. So. No perfection.). Well worth the visit with the little dudes.

What are you waiting for? Get going, dudes.

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Disney Braves Protest, Then Bears Away

Maybe. Maybe.

Okay, I know you dudes might not be all that interested in this, but you should be. Especially if you have daughters.

I mean, come on. How hard is it for someone, someone in Hollywood to present us with a female hero who isn’t pining for some man, waiting for a man to rescue her or show her how it’s really done? Apparently very.

Merida, notice the wild, frizzy hair, childlike face, bow & arrow, and decided lack of lace and glitter
Merida, notice the wild, frizzy hair, childlike face, bow & arrow, and decided lack of lace and glitter

It wasn’t until Pixar’s Brave that Disney/Pixar finally found the gumption to showcase a strong, independent young girl that moms and dads could feel comfortable showing to their daughters and sons. Merida was a princess who appealed to girls and boys, thanks to her outgoing ways, love of the outdoors, horse riding, bear fighting and all that.

Well, she was originally.

See, here’s the deal. A few years ago, some smart guy at Disney realized they could start merchandising all their female protagonists together. It went over like gangbusters. It’s called the Disney Princess line. Each and every princess is showcased in frilly, glittery finery. Even Mulan, a young girl who spent most of her story in the army and fighting the bad guys with sword and fireworks, shows up in a gown.

So guess what the geniuses at Disney did when it was Merida’s turn to join the Disney Princess line? Yeah, they stripped her of her bow and arrow, tamed her frizzy hair, aged her a bit more, gave her a low-cut gown and then threw her into an explosion at the glitter and make-up factory.

You think I’m kidding. I know you dudes do.

But I’m not. Not even a little bit.

Here. Take a look.

The new Merida. Notice the complete lack of everything I pointed out above.
The new Merida. Notice the complete lack of everything I pointed out above.

Yeah. Like that. Take your time and look at that mess. Really look at it. If it weren’t for the red hair and the fact that they labeled her as Merida, I’d never believe it’s the same person.

Really. Seriously.

Apparently, I wasn’t the only person who was horrified by the changes wrought in the name of selling to 8-year-old girls. And? Sexing up a character to sell to 8-year-old girls? Something deeply wrong with that.

Just ask Merida’s creator, Writer and co-director of “Brave,” Brenda Chapman. She wrote the following in an e-mail to her local newspaper.

“Merida was created to break that mold — to give young girls a better, stronger role model, a more attainable role model, something of substance, not just a pretty face that waits around for romance … They have been handed an opportunity on a silver platter to give their consumers something of more substance and quality — THAT WILL STILL SELL — and they have a total disregard for it in the name of their narrow minded view of what will make money.”

Disney heard the outcry and told everyone to relax. Sexed-up, aged Merida was only drawn like that in her finery so she could look good at her induction ceremony as part of the Disney Princesses. She’d not look at all like that. Much. Supposedly.

Disney went so far as to remove the new drawings of sexed-up Merida from her Disney Princess website, but I have a feeling, just a feeling, mind, that we’ve not seen the last of this appalling revamp. Disney thought it would sell better once, so I don’t foresee them letting go of the idea any too easily.

Call me cynical, but I think it’s only a matter of time until she’s back.

 

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