Tag Archives: monsters

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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Boo!

No, this isn’t a lost Halloween post, dudes.

I’m wishing happy birthday to the only niece who was a baby when I first met her.

And issuing a warning. If you live in the Jacksonville area, be very, very careful while driving for the next couple of months. Yes, Boo is turning 16 today and will be allowed by Duval County, the city of Jacksonville, the state of Florida and these United States of America to drive — by herself — whenever she wants to do so.

Okay, standard make-fun of new drivers is over now.

In all seriousness, I’m certain that Boo is going to be a fantastic driver. After all, she’s pretty much fantastic in everything else, so why should driving be any different?

Her name isn’t really Boo, of course. But it’s short for Sweetie Boo, which I started calling her just to annoy her mom, my sister, Tia. The name sort of stuck and I eventually shortened it to Boo.

Once Monsters, Inc. came out and there was a cute, little girl named Boo in it. . . Well, there’s no way I couldn’t not call her Boo after that.

It’s honestly been a tremendous joy to watch her grow up. From the very start, I tried to make sure that I never complimented her on only how she looks or what she was wearing that day.

For me, the first thing I told her was that she was going to be a genius when she grew up. And, what do you know, she’s almost there right now.

Not only is Boo destined to play Division 1 volleyball for some very, very lucky university in a couple of years (she’s already getting scouted and she’s only a sophomore), but she’s taking AP courses, honors courses, you name it.

The girl is good in just about everything you could imagine.

And it doesn’t hurt that she’s somehow managed to overcome the genetic handicap of having Tia as her mother and The Teaching Dutchman as her father. She’s beautiful, both outside and in.

With a quick wit, an infectious laugh, and one of the biggest hearts I’ve ever had the privilege to be around, Boo is the epitome of what young ladies should be.

Those of you who aren’t relatives and who have read this far might be wondering if I am — possibly — a tiny bit biased. And, yes, I fear that I am. But, and let me strongly reinforce this but, I am not wrong in this.

Boo is the daughter I wish I’d had. She’s a daughter to make any parent — or uncle — proud.

I am so excited that I’ll get a chance to watch her grow, mature and flourish as she moves from being an outstanding young lady to a stunning woman, able to dazzle with academic brilliance and physical grace and beauty.

Happy Sweet Sixteen, Boo! You’ve got a wonderful journey ahead. I’m so glad I get a chance to watch you go.

Also a belated happy birthday to her dad, The Teaching Dutchman. Sorry, dude, but it’s her Sweet Sixteen. Just getting older doesn’t really match up. Still, we’re glad you’re here.

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Fight The Power

I know you dudes have all heard a lot about the mutant menace, but I want to talk about the other menace, the one you don’t even notice because it’s been there for so long.

For more than 40 years, Trask Industries has been hanging around, building bombs, weapons and genetic bioweapons designed to find, suppress, and, when possible, kill mutants.

This is just wrong. I mean, I know that mutants have been a major destabilizing force for years, ever since they came out of the genetic closet after the near-miss during the Cuban Missile Crisis, but come on.First they came for the mutants. . .

These mutants aren’t scary creatures from the depths of space, operating on unknown logic. They’re people. They come from families just like you and me. They’re raised in our cities and on our farms and in our suburbs. Just because they have powers and abilities that are different from those we humans have, that’s no reason to round them up and toss them in camps, to presume they’re guilty.

Mutants are just like people. There are some good, some bad and the great majority somewhere in between.

And yet Trask Industries keeps pumping out Sentinels. These monstrous robotic killing machines — yes, I said it, killing machines — are found on every corner all over the world. This is big brother. Really big brother.

The one thing that has allowed this to take place has been the dehumanization of the mutants as a whole. We’ve followed along in the steps of demagogues who keep telling us that mutants are less than human. And then, when Bolivar Trask said he found a waylist-trask to electronically differentiate an active mutant from a baseline human. . . Well, all bets were off. If they’re different, then we need to kill them before they kill us. And who’s to say these Mutant Detection Devices even work? I mean, Trask Industries calls it proprietary and won’t let anyone take a real good look inside. 

If you want to talk scary, let’s talk Sentinels Mark I. These aren’t even human at all. There’s no human in the decision loop. Each one of these operates on a set of software code, but it operates independently. If it decides to shoot down a little dude or little dudette just because they have the x-gene, something they might not even be aware of, then we can’t stop it.

Image2_FullAnd the government just allows this to happen. Heck, Bolivar Trask got rich selling these metal monstrosities to governments all around the world. I wouldn’t be surprised if some day these things just decided the best way to protect the human race was to take over completely and sterilize anyone found with the x-gene.

Seriously. I mean, have you looked — really looked — at the propaganda posters that are going up lately? If that thought, that image, doesn’t scare you, then you haven’t been paying attention.

To make matters worse, there’s talk that Trask Industries now is developing a Sentinel Mark X, which is going to incorporate some sort of genetically engineered bioweapon on board.

People, this just isn’t right. We need to do something. Write to your congressman or congresswoman, to your senators. Heck, why not write to the great Bolivar Trask his ownself? Let them know we believe mutants are human, too.

I started going bald early, about the time when I was 16 or so. That’s considered a mutation. Not much use in sowing terror or combatting dangerous criminals, I’ll grant you, but a mutation nonetheless. Am I next? Do I need to start fearing the sound of those soulless monsters clanging down the street after me?

We need to do something. Now. Not next week. Don’t wait until 2014. By then it could be too late.

Director B. Singer with Sentinel from the movie.
Director B. Singer with Sentinel from the movie.

 

This post brought to you by X-Men: Days of Future Past, because I stumbled on the movie’s Trask Industries viral site and just got so geeked out I couldn’t help myself. Sorry if I went overboard, dudes. It’s just I’ve been wanting this for so very long.

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