Review – Something Else to Blame Global Warming for… (“Captain America: The Winter Soldier”)

“Trust no one”. Not only was that the mantra of the “X-Files“, but that also could be the theme of this second of the movie trilogy. Written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeeley and directed by the brothers Russo (Anthony and Joseph), we have good ol’ Captain America (Chris Evans) joined by some friends in saving the world again… but at a price!

It’s been two years after the NYC alien invasion fiasco and Steve Rogers, aka Captain America (Evans) is just biding his time in Washington, D.C. and jogging with his newest friend, Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), a war veteran and PTSD counselor. But duty calls and Rogers is called away to S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters by Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). There’s trouble in the Indian Ocean where Somalian pirates have captured aS.H.I.E.L.D. ship. (Apparently, they’ve moved on from Captain Phillips’ little tanker). Cap and his team go in and get them out, but Cap discovers a secret: encrypted computers files that Natasha is downloading to take back to S.H.I.E.L.D. leader, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). Why?Seems that Fury is concerned about Project Insight, a pre-emptive battle attack plan that would utilize three gigantic war airships armed to the teeth that could destroy any country that threatens us. Steve doesn’t like the idea, but that’s the least of his problems.

Something goes terribly wrong when Fury tries to access the flash drive with the secret info on it. He’s attacked! By S.H.I.E.L.D.! WTH??Faster than you can say “conspiracy”, Fury’s on the run and badly injured. He gives the flash drive to Rogers to figure out it’s secrets just before he’s gunned down by a nasty, unstoppable assassin on the loose called The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan). This guy’s good. How good is he? He’s SO good, that he can actually catch Captain America’s shield! Rogers and Natasha team up to find out who’s behind Nick Fury’s assassination, what’s on the flash drive, and why Rogers isn’t a great kisser.

Meanwhile, back at S.H.I.E.L.D. HQ, Fury’s job has been usurped by his best friend, Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford), and now he’s the leader of the World Security Council. Pierce orders that Rogers is S.H.I.E.L.D. enemy #1 and is solely responsible for Fury’s attack! Captain America is now a wanted man on the run with Black Widow at his side trying to figure out through spy work (plus a hail of bullets and escapes) what’s going on. After decrypting the file (at an Apple Store, no less) and going to a remote abandoned Army base, they find their answer: Hydra!Yes, the alternate-Nazi bad guys from the first movie are back! Sleeper agents have infiltrated every nook and cranny of S.H.I.E.L.D. to bring it down and are going to use Project Insight (and those airships) to kill millions of Americans! Yikes! To stop them, Rogers, Natasha, and Wilson (who straps on a jet pack and wings and becomes “The Falcon”) must find S.H.I.E.L.D. loyalists to help them.

But in the middle of all this turmoil, Rogers squares off with the dreaded Winter Soldier who, he painfully discovers, is his best friend from 70 years ago, James “Bucky” Barnes! Whaaaaaa? Looks like Bucky wasn’t killed in the first movie after all, but subjected to horrible experimentation and then frozen, thawed-out, and then reprogrammed to be a killing machine.The finale is a cavalcade of violence, tremendous explosions, a massive expenditure of bullets, fist fights galore, an impressive body count for a Marvel film, and the future of S.H.I.E.L.D. in question. But the movie never really ends, it just stalls our appetite for part three which will be out in 2016. To get a sneak peek, stay after the credits to see what I mean. Stay until after ALL the credits roll to see a little ‘brush-stroke’ that you pretty much already saw coming. Not as fun or creative as the first Captain America movie, which had a exciting and well written storyline. This main story plays out like a typical TV who-done-it caper with some outrageous stunts and violent acts thrown in to distract you. The direction by the brothers Russo, whose only main contribution has been TV shows and a few obscure movies, shows they put too much emphasis in their action scenes. Whether it was the shaky steadi-cam, too many close-ups, or the jump/smash-cuts in the editor’s bay, the fight scenes were badly filmed and a lot of the great fight choreography is either visibly lost or obscured. And, woe is me, they’re also directing the third movie as well.

Watching the first movie is almost required here as half this movie references the original. Which is nice, if you want to wax nostalgic for the some of the characters and plot points, but you’d be confused if you never saw it. There is the occasional and welcome witty banter between team players, which comes in handy, given the movie’s lengthy 2 hour and 16 min running time, but not enough of it to fill in the down times.

Plus, and this has been a pet peeve with me and other fanboys with this movie and the other sequels (“Iron Man 3“, “Thor 2“): Where are the other Avengers?

S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s under attack, Black Widow and Captain America have been framed and on the run being hunted, and Nick Fury’s been SHOT! Where the hell’s Iron Man? Hulk? Thor? Hawkeye? And where’s Coulson and HIS team? What, are they ALL on vacation?Probably, but they’ll all be back in 2015 on May 1st for “The Avengers 2: Age of Ultron“. How will Cap fit HIS part 3 (which comes out in 2016) into this sequel? We’ll see!

THE FLY (1986)

Steve Rogers wasn’t the only one that had a best friend turn on him. Of course, Bucky didn’t turn into a huge fly.
 
Sure, I could have gone with the original 1958 film version, but I like this one SO much better! Plus, it’s got one of the great movie quotes of all times: “Be afraid. Be very afraid”. Directed and co-written by weirdo-meister David Cronenberg, this impressive and very icky version features the one-time real-life couple of Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis as the stars.
 
Goldblum is super tech-savvy Seth Brundle who has secretly invented a teleporter: two large metal pods than can disassemble and then reassemble anything non-living from one place to another. An unbelievable scientific breakthrough that has captivated Veronica Quaife (Davis), a journalist for Particle Magazine. But while documenting his experiments, they fall in love with each other (Awwww, isn’t that nice?). Veronica’s misogynistic ex-boyfriend and boss, Stathis Borans (John Getz) wants more info (and sex) from her and pushes her buttons about the subject. This makes her uncomfortable and Seth upset. . .so much so that, on the verge of sending a living being through his teleporters, he gets drunk and decides he’ll do it himself. Him and a pesky little fly that joins him by mistake, that is. Uh-oh!
 

Fused at the molecular level, Seth and the fly (“Brundlefly”) become one and Seth slowly starts to exhibit weird and erratic behavior towards his girlfriend. Marathon sex romps, an unnatural attraction to candy bars and sugar, incredible strength, paranoid schizophrenia, and what’s with these strange hairs growing on his back? Pretty soon the “fly” part of him takes over and emerges, pushing Seth (and his body parts) out of the way in some of the ghastliness scenes ever seen. Seth eating a donut is particularly nauseating. Stathis tries to interfere and gets some of his body parts, shall we say, melted off? It’s gross!

Oh, but there’s more! Veronica is pregnant with Seth’s “fly” baby and the new Brundlefly (Seth walking on the walls and ceiling, no less) realizes that he can’t go on like this, and demands that Veronica kill him in a dramatic ending with telepods, multiple body parts, and shotguns. Aw, true love!

Typical Cronenberg (except Geena Davis doesn’t get spanked) with his highly stylized film making and disgusting scenes of blood and guts. Some call it “art”, others “trash cinema”. You decide. Some scenes (which have since been reinstated on Blu-Ray) were even deleted due to their graphic content.Either way, this rebooting of George Langelaan’s 1957 short story carries a serious one-two punch, much more than the dated and silly 1958 film with Vincent Price and David Hedison, who has to wear a giant plastic fly head and hand. Plus, you can’t deny the on-screen chemistry between Goldblum and Davis, which adds to the realism, and Howard Shore’s terrific creepy score, and you have a wonderful (albeit gross at times) science fiction film.

P.S. It spawned a silly sequel (“The Fly 2“) that stars Eric Stoltz as Seth’s son. It’s always good for a laugh.

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