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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Justin Bieber's bodyguard has been arrested for allegedly assaulting a photographer in Hawaii. The Baby hitmaker and his entourage were enjoying a beach day on the island of Kauai on Wednesday (21Nov13) when paparazzi captured Bieber and his pals jumping off the famous cliff on Shipwreck's Beach.
One of Bieber's bodyguards, Dwayne Patterson, caught a snapper taking pictures and demanded he delete all his photos, according to TMZ.com.
The 29-year-old photographer refused to hand over his pictures and Patterson allegedly became violent and damaged the man's camera.
The snapper reportedly told police he had no injuries and refused medical attention.
Patterson was subsequently arrested for third degree assault and fourth degree criminal property damage, and has since been released on $3,000 (£2,000) bail.
A representative for Bieber has yet to comment.
Lions Gate via Everett Collection
When we last left our heroes, they had conquered all opponents in the 74th Annual Hunger Games, returned home to their newly refurbished living quarters in District 12, and fallen haplessly to the cannibalism of PTSD. And now we're back! Hitching our wagons once again to laconic Katniss Everdeen and her sweet-natured, just-for-the-camera boyfriend Peeta Mellark as they gear up for a second go at the Capitol's killing fields.
But hold your horses — there's a good hour and a half before we step back into the arena. However, the time spent with Katniss and Peeta before the announcement that they'll be competing again for the ceremonial Quarter Quell does not drag. In fact, it's got some of the film franchise's most interesting commentary about celebrity, reality television, and the media so far, well outweighing the merit of The Hunger Games' satire on the subject matter by having Katniss struggle with her responsibilities as Panem's idol. Does she abide by the command of status quo, delighting in the public's applause for her and keeping them complacently saturated with her smiles and curtsies? Or does Katniss hold three fingers high in opposition to the machine into which she has been thrown? It's a quarrel that the real Jennifer Lawrence would handle with a castigation of the media and a joke about sandwiches, or something... but her stakes are, admittedly, much lower. Harvey Weinstein isn't threatening to kill her secret boyfriend.
Through this chapter, Katniss also grapples with a more personal warfare: her devotion to Gale (despite her inability to commit to the idea of love) and her family, her complicated, moralistic affection for Peeta, her remorse over losing Rue, and her agonizing desire to flee the eye of the public and the Capitol. Oftentimes, Katniss' depression and guilty conscience transcends the bounds of sappy. Her soap opera scenes with a soot-covered Gale really push the limits, saved if only by the undeniable grace and charisma of star Lawrence at every step along the way of this film. So it's sappy, but never too sappy.
In fact, Catching Fire is a masterpiece of pushing limits as far as they'll extend before the point of diminishing returns. Director Francis Lawrence maintains an ambiance that lends to emotional investment but never imposes too much realism as to drip into territories of grit. All of Catching Fire lives in a dreamlike state, a stark contrast to Hunger Games' guttural, grimacing quality that robbed it of the life force Suzanne Collins pumped into her first novel.
Once we get to the thunderdome, our engines are effectively revved for the "fun part." Katniss, Peeta, and their array of allies and enemies traverse a nightmare course that seems perfectly suited for a videogame spin-off. At this point, we've spent just enough time with the secondary characters to grow a bit fond of them — deliberately obnoxious Finnick, jarringly provocative Johanna, offbeat geeks Beedee and Wiress — but not quite enough to dissolve the mystery surrounding any of them or their true intentions (which become more and more enigmatic as the film progresses). We only need adhere to Katniss and Peeta once tossed in the pit of doom that is the 75th Hunger Games arena, but finding real characters in the other tributes makes for a far more fun round of extreme manhunt.
But Catching Fire doesn't vie for anything particularly grand. It entertains and engages, having fun with and anchoring weight to its characters and circumstances, but stays within the expected confines of what a Hunger Games movie can be. It's a good one, but without shooting for succinctly interesting or surprising work with Katniss and her relationships or taking a stab at anything but the obvious in terms of sending up the militant tyrannical autocracy, it never even closes in on the possibility of being a great one.
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The man who allegedly beat American football star Adrian Peterson's son to death has been released from jail after posting bail. Joseph Patterson, 27, was released from Minnehaha County Jail in South Dakota on Tuesday morning (29Oct13) after he pleaded not guilty to second degree murder and two counts of first degree manslaughter on Monday (28Oct13).
Patterson, who is the boyfriend of the dead boy's mother, has also been charged with aggravated battery of an infant and felony child abuse.
He was caring for the Minnesota Vikings star's two-year-old son when the youngster lost consciousness at his apartment on 9 October (13). The child died two days later.
A man has been charged with killing American footballer Adrian Peterson's young son. The sportsman's two-year-old boy, who has not been named, passed away on 11 October (13) following an alleged assault.
Joseph Patterson, 27, has now been charged with one count of second degree murder and two counts of first degree manslaughter, as well as aggravated battery of an infant and felony child abuse, according to TMZ.com.
Reports suggest Patterson was the boyfriend of the child's mother.
There are no less than 25 YA projects in some form of development - from script stage to pre-production - not to mention upcoming films Ender’s Game, The Seventh Son, The Maze Runner, Vampire Academy: Blood Sisters, and Divergent. We take a good look at the YA films that have worked, which ones haven’t, and why Harry Potter was the first YA franchise to score at the box office. To read the full report, check it out at Studio System News!
Madonna has been named the top-earning celebrity of 2013. Editors at Forbes magazine estimate the pop superstar earned the majority of her $125 million (GBP83.3 million) fortune, between June 2012 and June 2013, from her MDNA tour, strong merchandise sales, a clothing line, fragrance and investments in companies like Vita Coco.
The earnings are the most the Material Girl has ever made in one year.
Director Steven Spielberg comes in second with $100 million (GBP66.6 million) in earnings, while Simon Cowell, author E.L. James and Howard Stern round out the top five.
Others included on the rich list are author James Patterson, TV personality Glenn Beck, moviemaker Michael Bay, Hollywood mogul Jerry Bruckheimer and Lady Gaga.
Actor Scott Patterson has given photographer Tyler Shields the cash he needs to start work on his first movie by purchasing one of his iconic snaps - for $500,000 (£333,000). Shields, who has made a name for himself by taking provocative shots of stars like Lindsay Lohan, Emma Roberts and his girlfriend Francesca Eastwood, hopes to finance his feature film debut The Outlaw with the former Gilmore Girls star's cash.
Fifty Shades Of Grey writer E.L. James has been named the best paid author of 2013 ahead of industry veterans Stephen King, James Patterson and Dan Brown. The British writer has made a fortune from her 2011 erotic novel and its two sequels, which were originally written as fan fiction based on the Twilight teen vampire franchise.
She has now topped Forbes' magazine's list of the year's (13) best-paid authors with estimated earnings of $95 million (£63.3 million), which includes money from the sale of film rights as movie bosses prepare to adapt her books for the big screen.
James comes in ahead of veteran crime author Patterson, who is at number two with estimated pay of $91 million (£60.7 million) for the period between June, 2012 and June, 2013, and The Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins ($55 million/£36.7 million).
Danielle Steel is at number five on the list, ahead of Dan Brown at nine and Stephen King at 10.
The stars of cult British TV drama Auf Wiedersehen, Pet are to reunite for a special event marking the show's 30th anniversary later this year (13). The black comedy, which followed the exploits of a group of British construction workers on jobs overseas, first hit screens in the U.K. in November, 1983.
It became an instant hit and made household names of its seven stars, including Harry Potter actor Timothy Spall, and the show went on to enjoy a hugely successful revival in 2002.
A convention event is being planned in Newcastle, England - where many of Auf Wiedersehen, Pet's characters were based - to celebrate the anniversary, and several big names connected with the programme will attend.
Tim Healy, who played team leader Dennis Patterson, show creator Franc Roddam, and writers Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais are confirmed for the charity event, and several other stars are expected to attend.
Healy says, "Thirty years, I can't believe where it's gone. We're having a brickies' gala dinner and a charity auction with all the money going to the Sunday for Sammy Trust... It will be a great night."
The weekend-long convention, which will include a tour of locations used in the show, is due to take place in September (13).