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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For the bulk of every Rocky and Bullwinkle episode, moose and squirrel would engage in high concept escapades that satirized geopolitics, contemporary cinema, and the very fabrics of the human condition. With all of that to work with, there's no excuse for why the pair and their Soviet nemeses haven't gotten a decent movie adaptation. But the ingenious Mr. Peabody and his faithful boy Sherman are another story, intercut between Rocky and Bullwinkle segments to teach kids brief history lessons and toss in a nearly lethal dose of puns. Their stories and relationship were much simpler, which means that bringing their shtick to the big screen would entail a lot more invention — always risky when you're dealing with precious material.
For the most part, Mr. Peabody & Sherman handles the regeneration of its heroes aptly, allowing for emotionally substance in their unique father-son relationship and all the difficulties inherent therein. The story is no subtle metaphor for the difficulties surrounding gay adoption, with society decreeing that a dog, no matter how hyper-intelligent, cannot be a suitable father. The central plot has Peabody hosting a party for a disapproving child services agent and the parents of a young girl with whom 7-year-old Sherman had a schoolyard spat, all in order to prove himself a suitable dad. Of course, the WABAC comes into play when the tots take it for a spin, forcing Peabody to rush to their rescue.
Getting down to personals, we also see the left brain-heavy Peabody struggle with being father Sherman deserves. The bulk of the emotional marks are hit as we learn just how much Peabody cares for Sherman, and just how hard it has been to accept that his only family is growing up and changing.
But more successful than the new is the film's handling of the old — the material that Peabody and Sherman purists will adore. They travel back in time via the WABAC Machine to Ancient Egypt, the Renaissance, and the Trojan War, and 18th Century France, explaining the cultural backdrop and historical significance of the settings and characters they happen upon, all with that irreverent (but no longer racist) flare that the old cartoons enjoyed. And oh... the puns.
Mr. Peabody & Sherman is a f**king treasure trove of some of the most amazingly bad puns in recent cinema. This effort alone will leave you in awe.
The film does unravel in its final act, bringing the science-fiction of time travel a little too close to the forefront and dropping the ball on a good deal of its emotional groundwork. What seemed to be substantial building blocks do not pay off in the way we might, as scholars of animated family cinema, have anticipated, leaving the movie with an unfinished feeling.
But all in all, it's a bright, compassionate, reasonably educational, and occasionally funny if not altogether worthy tribute to an old favorite. And since we don't have our own WABAC machine to return to a time of regularly scheduled Peabody and Sherman cartoons, this will do okay for now.
If nothing else, it's worth your time for the puns.
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Arctic Monkeys and One Direction were double winners at the 2014 BRIT Awards on Wednesday night (19Feb14). After opening the ceremony with a fiery performance of their hit RU Mine?, the British rockers took home the trophy for Best British Group, joking that they had lost money by betting on category rivals One Direction to win.
The band also took the stage to accept the coveted Best British Album award for AM, which beat off releases by Rudimental, David Bowie and Disclosure, and frontman Alex Turner delivered a poetic acceptance speech about the resurgence of rock music.
He told the audience at London's O2 Arena, "That rock and roll just won't go away. It might hibernate from time to time... but it's always waiting there, just around the corner, ready to make its way back through the sludge and smash back through the glass ceiling, looking better than ever. That rock and rock, it seems like it's faded away sometimes but it will never die. And there's nothing you can do about it."
The band has now won the British Group award three times.
One Direction also took a pair of honours, claiming the Global Success Award for the second year in a row, and picking up the Best Video trophy after winning a live Twitter.com fan vote by a landslide.
An emotional Ellie Goulding kicked off the prize list at the top of the show, when she was handed the award for Best British Female by pop superstar Prince. The win ended years of disappointment since her last BRIT - a Critics' Choice award in 2009.
David Bowie was handed the prize for Best British Male, a prize he last won in 1984, but he did not attend in person, and asked model pal Kate Moss to collect his award, dressed in one of his old stage costumes.
Bruno Mars was named Best International Male for the second time, having previously scooped the gong in 2012, while 17-year-old New Zealander Lorde continued her amazing 2014 by winning International Female, Daft Punk were handed the International Group award, and Bastille were shocked to take home the British Breakthrough Act prize, beating brotherly duo Disclosure, who went home empty handed despite being nominated for four awards.
Live performances came from Katy Perry, who strutted the stage as a day-glo Egyptian queen, Bruno Mars, who bounced around the stage while he performed Treasure, Ellie Goulding and Beyonce, who performed her track XO live on TV for the first time.
It was also a night for onstage collaborations as Lorde and AlunaGeorge singer Aluna Francis teamed up with Disclosure to play a mash-up of their respective hits Royals and White Noise, and Rudimental were joined on stage by Bastille.
Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers closed the show with a medley of Daft Punk's hit Get Lucky and Williams' No. 1 Happy.
The full list of winners is as follows:
British Female Solo Artist: Ellie Goulding
British Group: Arctic Monkeys
British Breakthrough Act: Bastille
British Male Solo Artist: David Bowie
International Female Solo Artist: Lorde
Best British Video: One Direction - Best Song Ever
British Single: Rudimental featuring Ella Eyre - Waiting All Night
International Group: Daft Punk
International Male Solo Artist: Bruno Mars
British Album: Arctic Monkeys - AM
Special Recognition Award: War Child UK
Critics' Choice Award: Sam Smith
Global Success Award: One Direction
British Producer Of The Year: Flood & Alan Moulder
Ellie Goulding and Bruno Mars were the first winners at the BRIT Awards in London on Wednesday night (19Feb14), picking up British Female Solo Artist and International Male Solo Artist at the O2 Arena. The Burn hitmaker fought back tears as she accepted the night's first prize from Prince, who hit the stage with his new girl band 3rdEyeGirl.
The emotional singer said, "Thank you so much, I genuinely am actually in shock... I'm shaking, thank you so much this means so much to me, I can't tell you."
She took to Twitter.com an hour after her big win and added, "so overwhelmed. Thankyou (sic) everyone."
Mars continued an amazing February (14) - after headlining the Super Bowl half-time show - by picking up the International Male Brit award for a second time after previously winning the trophy in 2012.
Meanwhile, One Direction scooped the Global Success Award for the second year and David Bowie and Daft Punk were no-shows for their Best Male Artist and Best International Group honours - supermodel Kate Moss collected Bowie's award and Chic star Nile Rodgers, who worked with Daft Punk on their 2013 mega-hit Get Lucky, was on hand to pick up the duo's prize.
British rockers Arctic Monkeys, who picked up the Best British Group award for a third time, kicked off the awards ceremony with a performance of their hit RU Mine?, while Katy Perry also hit the stage early, dressed as a day-glo Egyptian queen, to sing her latest song Dark Horse.
But neither act could match the grace of the night's special guest, Beyonce, who performed her track XO for the first time on TV at the Brits.
As WENN went to press, the winners so far at the 2014 BRIT Awards are:
Global Success Award: One Direction
Best British Group: Arctic Monkeys
Best British Breakthrough Act: Bastille
Best International Male: Bruno Mars
Best British Female Solo Artist: Ellie Goulding
Best British Male Solo Artist: David Bowie
Best British Single: Waiting All Night by Rudimental
Best International Group: Daft Punk
Best International Female: Lorde
Critics Choice Award: Sam Smith
Actor James Corden has risked the wrath of BRIT Awards bosses by unmasking Beyonce as the show's surprise performer just hours before the ceremony. The funnyman, who is hosting the prizegiving in London on Wednesday night (19Feb14), leaked the organisers' biggest secret in a radio interview on the morning of the show.
Speaking to Britain's BBC Radio 2, Corden said, "There's this weird thing with this year's Brits where I've been - more than any other year - told things I can't say. But I figure it's the day... I must be able to tell you? Beyonce. Beyonce is performing tonight. She's performing a track she has never ever performed live before. Ever."
Beyonce's surprise appearance has reportedly been under wraps for weeks. Confirmed performers for the event include Lorde, who will collaborate with dance act Disclosure, Katy Perry, Pharrell Williams, who will reportedly play a medley with Nile Rodgers, and Arctic Monkeys.
Free star Paul Rodgers plans to give all the proceeds from his latest solo album to a music academy. The rocker financed The Royal Sessions himself and wants to donate the profits to the Stax Music Academy, an after-school program in Memphis, Tennessee.
The All Right Now hitmaker tells Mojo magazine, "(Producer) Perry Margouleff and I financed the whole thing and one day we just decided: pay the proceeds to the people who gave us this music.
"How? Well, the Stax Academy is a nice, communal place for kids which we saw in action, so that's what we agreed. I've done very well out of music, after all. If I've had dips in my career they've been while I was regrouping. One of the things The Royal Sessions has done is recharge my love for music."
The Royal Sessions is a collection of covers of classic R&B and soul songs recorded at Memphis' Royal Studios. Rodgers put his stamp on hits by soul greats such as Otis Redding, Albert King and Ann Peebles.
Former Beatles bandmates Sir Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr have been added to the star-packed line-up for the Grammy Awards at the end of January (14). Grammy bosses have confirmed the two legends will perform at the ceremony, but have stopped short of commenting on rumours suggesting the two old pals will reunite onstage for a song on music's big night.
Officials are merely stating, "Each will perform".
But McCartney and Starr, who will make his performance debut at the Grammys, will hit the stage together to collect the 2014 Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award for their work with the Fab Four.
Meanwhile, 2014 MusiCares Person of the Year honouree Carole King and Sara Bareilles will team up for a performance, and nominees Taylor Swift, Keith Urban, John Legend, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Kacey Musgraves have confirmed spots.
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, who will also be making their debut at the Grammys, have seven nominations, including Album Of The Year and Best Rap Album for The Heist, and Song Of The Year for Same Love.
Kacey Musgraves and seven-time Grammy winner Taylor Swift are up for four awards each.
Previously announced performers include Daft Punk with Nile Rodgers, Pharrell Williams and Stevie Wonder; Kendrick Lamar; Lorde; Metallica and Lang Lang, Katy Perry and Robin Thicke and Chicago.
There will also be a "special performance" featuring country legends Merle Haggard, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson and nominee Blake Shelton.
The 56th annual Grammy Awards will take place on 26 January (14).
Metallica have signed up for a genre-busting collaboration at the 56th Grammy Awards later this month (Jan14) - the heavy rockers will hit the stage with Chinese concert pianist Lang Lang. The set will mark Metallica's first performance at the event since 1991, while Lang Lang, The Grammy Cultural Ambassador to China, last hit the stage at music's big night in 2008.
Also teaming up at the ceremony in Los Angeles on 26 January (14) will be Robin Thicke and classic rockers Chicago, Stevie Wonder, Pharrell Williams, Nile Rodgers and Daft Punk, and Pink and Nate Ruess, while Katy Perry and Lorde have been added to the line-up of solo performers.
There will also be a "special performance" featuring country legends Merle Haggard, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson and 2014 Grammy nominee Blake Shelton.
LL Cool J will host the show from the Staples Center.
Jan Persson/Getty ImagesFollowing the 1991 tragic death of Freddie Mercury, undoubtedly one of the greatest showman of all time, it seemed unthinkable that the remaining members of Queen would even consider trying to find someone capable of filling his massive platform boots. And yet from one-off performances with Elton John and George Michael to a string of dates with American Idol runner-up Adam Lambert to a world tour and album with Paul Rodgers, Brian May and Roger Taylor have continued to showcase the band's iconic back catalogue with various different replacements. With fun.'s Nate Ruess the latest frontman to appear alongside the rock legends at last weekend's iHeartRadio Festival, here’s a look at five other potential candidates who embody the spirit of The Great Pretender.
Robbie WilliamsSay what you like about the former Take That star but he sure knows how to work a crowd. Williams has already been in the studio with Queen having recorded a cover of "We Are The Champions" for A Knight’s Tale and reportedly came close to fronting their 2005 reunion tour. But he's yet to make that giant leap and join them on stage.
MikaMika even referenced Mercury directly in his 2007 breakthrough hit, "Grace Kelly." And although his star has diminished considerably since, his natural flamboyance and piercing falsetto still makes him a credible contender.
Justin HawkinsAnother name who was touted in the press before Queen settled on Rodgers, Justin Hawkins channelled the bluster and pomp of the band's '70s era perfectly with The Darkness' debut album, Permission To Land. A virtuoso guitarist, the catsuit-clad rocker could also offer some neat interplay with May.
Russell BrandA leftfield choice which would no doubt enrage Queen's loyal fan base, the former Mr. Katy Perry may be best-known for his witty dictionary-swallowing way with words. But his roles in Get Me To The Greek and Forgetting Sarah Marshall, not to mention his London Olympics Closing Ceremony performance, proved he's got what it takes to be a rock star.
Marc MartelThe least known but possibly most obvious choice to do their classic hits justice, Marc Martel was personally chosen by Taylor to front the officially-sanctioned covers band for the recent Queen Extravaganza Tour following a YouTube-uploaded audition which displayed a highly impressive uncanny vocal resemblance to his idol.
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Rapper Snoop Dogg put on a saucy show for revellers at Britain's Bestival festival on Saturday night (07Sep13) by enjoying an onstage lap dance during his rain-soaked set. The hip-hop star took to the stage to headline the second night of the U.K. music event, performing under his well known moniker instead of his reggae alter-ego Snoop Lion, and thrilled the crowd with hits including Doggystyle, Drop it Like it's Hot and Wet.
He performed part of his Katy Perry collaboration California Gurls, as well as a rendition of Calvin Harris' Feel So Close, while he also covered a saucy Akon song, I Wanna F**k You, while receiving a lap dance.
Snoop Dogg's set was marred by heavy rain, which also blighted most of the festival's second day. Bastille played through the rain, while rockers Franz Ferdinand were also soaked during their time on stage.
The festival closes on Sunday (08Sep13) with performances from acts including Nile Rodgers and Chic, Tom Odell and Sir Elton John.