Captain America: The Winter Soldier is filled — and I mean jam-packed — with genre-bending, action-heavy, sportily tense and relentlessly sinuous, sky-high-concept and maniacally bonkers stuff. Polygonal mayhem that aims, and impressively so, to top the Marvel lot in ideas, deconstructing every thriller staple from government corruption to talking computers to odd couple agents gone rogue. But oddly enough, the moment in the Cap sequel that I find most arresting several weeks after seeing the film is our peaceful reunion with Steve Rogers, trotting merrily around the Washington Monument as the sun rises on our nation's capital.
The scene is shot from far overhead, a low pulse/high spirits Chris Evans reduced to a shapeless blur as he repeatedly (but politely!) laps fellow jogger and veteran Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie)... and yet it might be the closest we feel to Cap throughout the movie.
The Winter Soldier has a lot to worry about in the delivery of its content. Managing a plot as ambitious and multifaceted as its own, with themes as grand as the scope of the American mentality — as represented by Steve Rogers, raised in the good old days of gee-golly-jingoism — it doesn't always have the faculties to devote to humanizing its central troupe. Cap isn't left hollow, but his battles with the dark cloud of contemporary skepticism play more like an intriguing Socratic discussion than an emotional arc. Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow, a character who ran circles around her Avengers co-players in flavor, feels a bit shortchanged in that department here (in her closest thing to a starring role yet, no less).
Mackie's Falcon, a regular joe who is roped into the calamity thanks largely to his willingness to chat with a fellow runner — a rare skill, honestly — is less of a problem. He doesn't have much to do, but he does it all well enough. Dynamic though he may be, Mackie keeps things bridled as Cap's ad-hoc sidekick, playing up the along-for-the-ride shtick rather than going full (or even half) superhero. We might want more from him, knowing just how fun he can be, but it's a sating dose. The real hunger is for more in the way of Black Widow, Cap, and — perhaps most of all — the titular villain.
Still, these palpable holes pierce through a film that gets plenty right. As elegantly as Joe Johnston did the Spielberg thing back in 2011, Joe and Anthony Russo take on the ballots of post-innocence. They aren't afraid to get wild and weird, taking The Winter Soldier through valleys that feel unprecedented in superhero cinema. We're grateful for the invention here — for Robert Redford's buttoned-up Tom Clancy villain, for the directors' aggressive tunneling through a wide underworld of subterranean corruption, and especially for one scene in an army bunker that amounts to the most charmingly bats**t crazy reveal in any Marvel movie yet. We might be most grateful, though, for a new take on Nick Fury; here, the franchise gives Samuel L. Jackson his best material by a mile.
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But in the absence of definitive work done in our heroing couple, a pair rich in fibers but relegated to broad strokes and easy quips in this turn, most of it amounts to a fairly good spy thriller, not an ace-in-the-whole neo-superhero masterpiece... which, justly or otherwise, is what we've come to expect and demand from these things.
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Among the lot of Shakespeare reimaginings, modernizations, parodies, and spin-offs that we've seen come to be at the hand of Hollywood creatives, there still exist some good old fashion revisits to the works of the Bard. Set up for the near future are two retellings of Willy boy's best known love story, Romeo and Juliet. Alongside a high school-set comedy charged with delivering the story from the point of view of Romeo's ex-lover Rosaline (in which Lily Collins is pegged to star), there is another, far more traditional version of the play on the horizon: Director Carlo Carlei and writer Julian Fellowes' Romeo and Juliet, which has released its first trailer.
Stars Douglas Booth and Hailee Steinfeld offer a verbatim delivery of the play's lyrical dialogue... which makes one wonder exactly what facets of the script Fellowes might be responsible for. Though, anyone familiar with his name will instill confidence in the writer's ability to handle some old school Shakespeare with aplomb (Fellowes is responsible for Downton Abbey and Gosford Park, among other highbrow exploits).
We might ask why, exactly, a filmmaker would be interested in rehashing a play in such a well worn format. Perhaps Carlei and Fellowes aren't saying much new at all about Romeo And Juliet with their forthcoming film. But if nothing else, the below trailer does look like it'll return us to our younger days' read through of the admittedly stellar (stop saying it's Shakespeare's worst, contrarians, it's damn good) romantic tragedy. Check out the video and see what you think.
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