August 13, 2019

The MCU Project: Ant-Man [2015]

Ant Man opens in a similar fashion to many of the MCU films with a short flashback scene. Starting a film with a “boardroom” scene is a puzzling choice – I respond by doing what I usually do when confronted with a phalanx of middle aged white men in suits, which is, fall into a senseless stupor. I am just about alert enough to register the presence of Howard Stark and a man who looks like a young Michael Douglas. Upon consulting a wiki afterwards, I discover that the revelations in this scene are basically critical to the entire plot of the film, which explains why I felt like I was spending the whole two hours playing catch-up. Young Michael Douglas is Hank Pym, who was referred to in Thor, and he’s been working on shrinking technology but come to the conclusion that it’s unspeakably dangerous. He’s angry that Howard Stark is also now working on shrinking technology, and so Pym resigns from SHIELD in a fit of pique.

Flash forward to the present day, and here’s Paul Rudd, who will always to me be Crap Bag from Friends. He is freshly out of prison and trying to go clean, though it’s hard work when even his job at an ice cream parlour falls through when they discover about his past. In case you’re worried that there’s going to be any sort of challenging moral grey areas here, fret ye not – he’s unambiguously portrayed as one of The Good Guys, and just to put a cherry on it, it’s revealed that though he’s a cat burglar, the crime that he was put away for was a Robin Hood sort of theft. I open my notebook and jot down something tells me that there will be one last “big score”.

Meanwhile, in a lab that has been given the appropriate lighting, decor and mood music that the sign reading “You don’t have to be evil to work here – but it helps!” is rendered unnecessary, a bald man in a suit (Darren Cross, and you know he’s a baddie, because he’s both bald and in a suit) is introducing more men in suits to a teeny tiny mech suit called the yellowjacket which has the power to shrink its wearer into a centimetre-high supersoldier. One of the men in suits sweats nervously and stammers “imagine what our enemies could do with this tech?” and you know that he’s not going to be long for this world. You can literally see Cross thinking “I find your lack of faith disturbing.”

Surprise surprise, Crap Bag ends up doing one last big score, because otherwise his ex-wife is going to stop him from seeing his daughter. As a Good Guy, his illegal activities must be motivated by wholesome desires. He runs into some slightly tighter than expected security, but he’s quick on his feet and cracks a fingerprint scanner in less than 5 minutes. This segment nicely satisfies my lust for what I call “competence porn” – scenes in films and TV shows which show people being really bloody good at what they do. Once inside the vault, Crap Bag discovers what looks like an old motorcycle suit, only to discover that it’s an older version of the yellowjacket suit, and we get our first ant-scale action sequence. These sequences are all absolutely brilliant – top notch action, great CG, and also some cracking humour injected into them, by occasionally interspersing the high-octane ant-scale action with a brief clip of how it looks from human-scale, which is often hilariously anticlimactic.

At this point, two brilliant things happen, for which I absolutely love this film. First, Scott – sorry, Crap Bag – panics and tries to return the suit. This fills me with glee, because whereas in most films the protagonist would accept his new responsibility and just advance to the next plot point, in this one he does the logical thing and tries to hit the undo key. It is then revealed that the big heist was actually a set up, and the owner/inventor of the suit is a fully-grown Michael Douglas, who deliberately selected Scott and wanted him to have the suit in order to half-inch the yellowjacket suit from the evil bald man. Cue brilliant thing number two, which is that Scott says “uh, why don’t we call up The Avengers and get them to fight evil instead?” Again, entirely logical. Fully-Grown Michael Douglas gives an explanation why that’s not possible, and I’m sure it was a very good one, but I was too busy noting down my joy that the writers of the film made an attempt to answer the fans’ inevitable “why didn’t they do sensible course of action instead of dumb thing” questions before they are even asked.

Scott finally accepts his duty and we then get a very funny training montage of him learning to effectively use the suit. At this point I would like to briefly mention the humour in this film. While it’s not quite as over-the-top as the Guardians Of The Galaxy movies, it’s definitely one of the funnier films in the stable, and for me personally, I think this might be the sweet spot. When we got to the credits and the writers were revealed as Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish, everything slotted into place. It is certainly a very British sort of humour – sometimes subtle but generally quite humble.

Then there’s another one of those gratuitous shirtless scenes like the one in Guardians Of The Galaxy 2 – for the benefit of anyone who hasn’t seen behind the curtain, you should be aware that preparing for that sort of scene is a months-long process in itself, it’s incredibly unhealthy (one of the main components is being incredibly dehydrated), and if you whipped off the actor’s shirt during any other scene in the movie, his stomach would not look anything like that (though that’s obviously what they’re trying to imply). Just so you know. Apologies if I’ve ruined your wanking session.

There are three female characters in this film, also known as “people who may need rescuing at some point”. Scott’s ex-wife and his daughter I’ve already mentioned, and the third is Fully-Grown Michael Douglas’ daughter, Hope. She’s a bit pissed off that FGMD has roped in Scott for this mission against evil, when she thinks that she’s the ideal candidate. You get no points if you correctly guess FGMD’s reasoning, which is that her mother was, like FGMD himself, once an agent working for SHIELD in one of FGMD’s tiny suits. Faced with humanity’s demise, she was forced to “go sub-atomic” as a noble sacrifice, and FGMD never got over it and doesn’t want to put his daughter in the same danger. “Never go sub-atomic”, FGMD warns Scott. The wise film fan laughs wryly. Remember in 1984, when Egon Spengler told the other Ghostbusters to never cross the streams, and then they ended up having to cross the streams because the plot demanded it? Yeah, you can see where this is going. Anyway, this paragraph went down a bit of a rabbit hole – the point I originally set out to make was that there are only two adult female characters in this film, which is about par for the course for MCU films, but most refreshingly there is no romance subplot. Protocol dictates that in this film, there should be flirting and eventual snogging between Hope and Scott, but that protocol is delightfully ignored. Hoo-fucking-ray!

We enter the final act of the film, and it is time to retrieve the yellowjacket suit. Things pan out exactly as predictably but entertainingly as I have prepped you for. I shall say no more, as I’ve already said enough.

The main theme of this film is that nothing is more powerful than a man’s love for his family. I would request that you remind me of this idiom next time I’m sat next to Bernard on the sofa and he says “Dad, I managed to keep a fart in!” about 0.75 seconds before a clarion “parp!” echoes off of the sofa cushions.

 

Pete
  • Comments: 3
  • Maybe we'll watch it again sometime - Pete
  • Also, I'm almost sorry I feel asleep during this one, it sounds quite good. - Karen
  • It seems like you have figured out the formula they are using. - Karen
August 9, 2019

The MCU Project: Avengers Age of Ultron

It falls to me to critique 2015’s Avengers Age of Ultron, directed by Joss Whedon along similar lines to some other Avengers movies I have known. The opening sequence reveals which members of the Avengers team will be entertaining us today, to joyful squeals from Pete and Bernard: Thor! Captain America! Black Widow! War Crime! Hulk! Iron Man! Etc. I recognise some of these, though admittedly the one called War Crime is new.

To provide that important context, we are watching this from a cosy cottage in the Yorkshire Dales, while back in Commuterville the physical Casa Uborka is having essential works done to the bathroom. The room is arranged such that from where I am sitting, I can mostly see the reflection of sunshine on the TV screen, rendering the action obscure. I am knitting (for the third time) a shawl pattern called Ishbel, rendering the plot impenetrable.

From what I can gather, the initial plot is to defeat Hydra and seize Loki’s sceptre. Hydra immediately surrenders, leaving me for a moment delighted that the film is only half an hour long. However there is a development! Stark and Banner have been developing some sort of global peace initiative, the software for which suddenly becomes sentient and megalomaniacal (basically a more sympathetic Iron Man with a shinier outfit). Some various confusing things happen and it turns out this one is a baddie after all, and the action resumes.

The theme of this movie is around relationships and teamwork, or the lack of them. Unable to resolve the continual pissing contest between the main male characters, and without Nick Furry, they have no leadership or coherent plan. There is a tediously long fighting scene between Iron Man and Hulk, resulting in the whole crew being disgraced and dashing off to hide in a bucolic setting much like our own. Enjoy the view from my window which occasionally distracts me from this less-than-absorbing movie.

Other points to note are the utterly wooden flirting between Black Widow (has she ever been married? Is this her correct marital status? Perhaps there was a back story movie about her that I have so far missed. Perhaps this is all still for me to look forward to) and Bruce Banner. Also the question or who or what are The Avengers avenging? I see no avengement going on, other than the avengement postulated (but never carried out) by the Speedy Twins, who are new characters complete with their mini-arc which I will not spoil.

I seem not to have made any further notes. Perhaps I was drawn into the movie to the extent that I was rendered incapable of putting pen to paper. Perhaps I reached the lace rows in my knitting. Perhaps I fell asleep.

Karen
  • Comments: 1
  • Please oh please can we get multi-reviews of these films, one for each of you? Please!! (l... - Gordon McLean
August 8, 2019

The MCU Project: Guardians of the Galaxy II [2017]

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is, for me, significantly better than Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 1 because the characters are much more developed and play a much stronger role. Drax is, by far, my favourite character because of the humour the developers have added. As my favourite scene goes, Rocket Racoon and Peter Quill are having an argument and Rocket says “In your bed tonight there will be something large and sticky and that thing will be a turd. BUT not my turd, it will be one of Drax’s”, to which Drax replies, “Hahaha I have famously large turds!”

You can obviously see why this is my favourite scene.

I also think that the developers have chosen good songs for which Peter will listen to as they felt very boppy. There is also good editing when Rocket and the Ravagers are using a space jump because jumping more than 50 is deemed unsafe so when Rocket and the Ravagers jump 700 that is a very funny, well edited scene! After the film, ‘The Guardians of the Galaxy will return…” it makes me really can’t wait for it.

The Film Reviews will return…

Bernard
  • Comments: 1
  • I enjoyed this movie too, but I think I prefer the first one a little more as it wasn't as... - Gordon McLean
August 2, 2019

No Booze Is Served… (but what if it was?)

Today’s guests would appear to be more sensible than expected, not helping one bit with the clearly stated aim of clearing the above shelf. Do take a seat while I get your drinks.

Pete, Love of my Life, this is the perfect opportunity for you to imbibe the rest of your Laphroig, and perhaps the Talisker too. Especially given the risk that they get knocked off the shelf by the bathroom fitters in the next week. I mean that in the accidental sense, not that I suspect them of being thieves; they seem very trustworthy to me. Only the virtual cocktail will leave you hale and hearty my dear.

Lyle. What goes well with excessive amounts of coke? Oh yes, excessive amounts of triple sec. May your Friday sparkle and your feet never become sore.

Graybo’s request for earl grey tea was particularly inspired, and I do have a tin of stale biscuits to offer you with that. I hope you like it with the addition of sloe liqueueuer, which I understand is how they drink it in Luxembourg, land of delightful fragrances. Maybe. I have never been there.

We are particularly delighted to welcome our dear old friend the sartorially elegant Dr Pockless, who has accidentally asked for a sparkling water. I will Dr his drink, if you’ll excuse the abbreviation, with the rest of that Kahlua and some angostura bitters, which will surely be delicious, and also improve his poetry.

And I’ll have the rest, combined and whizzed in the blender with some of the mint leaves that have taken over the garden. I call this the Ubornicorn. Have a lovely weekend.

Karen

Cocktail Hour

Once upon a time, Friday afternoon was all about the cocktails here at Casa Uborka. But as all you regular readers will know from Pete’s recent posts, there has been much less of that sort of thing lately. I may not have mentioned this, but a couple of years ago I was diagnosed with stomach ulcers. I should have mentioned it, because starting on the meds changed my world from one where continual acid indigestion was an accepted norm, the only variant being how much worse it got when I was under stress; to one where I never have to reach for a bottle of gaviscon to get through the night again. Helpfully, there is also the option of modifying my diet to reduce the symptoms: I can stop eating and drinking all my favourite things. Chocolate. Red wine. Spicy food. Tomatoes. Garlic. Coffee. Happy days. I’d rather take the drugs. However it turns out that as time goes by, some of things don’t taste good anymore – what’s that about? I can no longer drink even a small glass of wine, even the most mellow and expensive lovely old red (and I am salivating thinking about such a thing) will turn into plonk in my mouth. This has taken some mental and emotional adjustment.

For a while there, I made do with fruity ciders (apple ciders generally being waaaay too acidic), but find them excessively sweet and sugary. Then I turned to Crabbie’s ginger beer, and actually would very happily exist on that for the rest of time, but once Pete decided he was no longer a Beer And Whiskey Man, it occurred to me that there’s plenty of perfectly nice non-alcoholic ginger beer, cordial, and so on, and I too could simply stop drinking alcohol.

So I did. And it is fine. And I have to try quite hard not to be a bit born-again about it, but I really don’t miss the booze. It helps that I don’t have that many nights out, but we did most of our drinking on our own sofa anyway.

So I’d like to lift a glass of elderflower and lime cordial to all of you, and offer you something from the bar; we’ve got a load of stuff to get rid of now.

Karen
  • Comments: 6
  • Can I have a chaser of some obscure artisan spirit from the Med? - ... graybo...
  • Okay but how is any of this helping me to offload the shelf full of kalhua and hibiscus sy... - Karen
  • If we're booze-free, I'll stick with my usual excessive amounts of diet coke, thanks. - Lyle
  • This brings back so many memories. Earl Grey tea please, no milk, no sugar. - ... graybo...
  • I'm confused. Should I just have a glass of sparkling water? - Doctor Pockless
July 29, 2019

The MCU Project: Guardians Of The Galaxy [2014]

A camping weekend had to be cut short due to poor weather, which meant an extra Saturday night at home, which meant an unexpected opportunity to watch a film together! And it’s time for Guardians Of The Galaxy, which is a film that Karen and I have definitely seen before, and Bernard, I’m almost certain, has not.

The MCU films exist on a humour continuum. So far, we’ve had the near-humourlessness of the Captain America and Hulk films, and the slightly more jocular nature of the Iron Man and Thor submissions. At some point, someone clearly looked at this collection and said “no, no, no, no, no, we’re getting this all wrong!”

This film is a bit of a tease. It starts off all serious, like, with a dying mum scene and tears and shouting, and then a mean-looking guy in a vaguely Iron-Man-esque helmet appears out of the gloom. He presses the button to retract the helmet, and then boom, there’s Andy Dwyer, and before you know it he’s punting rodents across the cave, and grabbing one of them and singing into it as if it were a microphone, and it’s all exactly as ridiculous as it sounds. The character that Chris Pratt plays in this film shares a lot of comedic stylings with his character in Parks and Recreation, though he’s nowhere near as unintelligent, and far less podgy. There’s one brief, gratuitous shirtless scene, hilarious in its incongruity.

So while the other MCU films have been set either entirely on Earth, or partly on Earth and partly in spaaaaace, this is the first film to be set entirely in spaaaaaaace. There are people of all different skin colours, pinks and blues and greens and yellows, so they’re aliens, but they are all basically human-shaped, so… not aliens? Dunno.

Our bad guy for this film is Ronan, and like most bad guys his lair is very poorly illuminated. Remember that TV show, Through The Keyhole, where Loyd Grossman would poke around a celebrity’s house, and you had to try and guess who lived there? I’m imagining him rooting around in a damp, dark cave, with no furniture except for a huge fuck-off stone throne in the middle, and the viewers are screaming at the TV screen “it’s a supervillain, of course it’s a bloody supervillain!”

We are then introduced to the main protagonists of the film, who start off as adversaries. Peter “Star Lord” Quill has got a bounty on his head, which Rocket and his pal Groot want to cash in on. He also is carrying a curious orb, which Gamora wants, so the four of them end up in a bit of a three-way fight. But it ends in disappointment for all, as they get arrested, and agree to form a temporary alliance to escape, along with the help of Drax, who is just the coolest. His inability to detect nuance in the English language and take everything at face value results in predictable hilarity.

Some other longer-running plot threads are also established in this film. We are introduced to Thanos, who is Gamora’s adopted father, and he is shown on screen for a couple of short scenes. We also eventually discover that the orb contains one of the infinity stones, which turn out to be very important later on in the series.

The sequences covering the escape from the prison are absolutely brilliant. Imagine a cup – it’s a metaphorical cup. You have a jug labelled “excitement and peril” so you pour some of the powder from that into the cup. Then you have a jug labelled “hilarity and jokes” so you pour some of that powder into the cup too. Finally you have a jug labelled “shite and filler” but your cup is already full to the brim, so you have no room to add anything else. This is a very roundabout way of saying that these scenes are so packed with laughs and action that they represent spectacularly good value for money.

After leaving the prison, an entirely-predictable romance begins to develop between Quill and Gamora. It becomes vaguely relevant later on, but honestly the film could have worked just as well without it. There’s also a slightly amusing sequence where the gang, having just escaped from the prison, get into a big argument with each other in a gambling den. The five of them are yelling pretty much their complete life histories at each other, as well as detailing what they’re going to do next, while all the gambler low-life types are stood around, presumably writing all this down for future reference. At one point Quill shouts something like “calm down! If you can keep it together for another 24 hours then we’ll all be millionaires and none of this will matter” and I refuse to believe that the isn’t some skeevy dude stood round thinking “mmmm, I should keep an eye on these chumps.”

Ronan shows up soon after. It was established earlier that Drax seeks revenge on Ronan for the murder of his family, and at this point Drax throws himself at Ronan in fury, but his attacks cause about as much impact as throwing a small knob of butter at the back of a Ferrari F40. Ronan leaves Drax for dead, and Gamora’s also in a bad way, and the McGuffin is in the hands of the enemy, and this is clearly the bit in the middle of the film where the viewers are supposed to be at their lowest ebb. All hope is lost. But with a bit of luck and a bit of heroic sacrifice, the team are reunited, and they set themselves the goal of retrieving the orb, and you sense that a Title Drop is incoming but not yet, my chums, not yet.

There then follows a very Star Wars-esque aerial battle over Xandar, with lots of dogfighting and manual pew-pew-pewing, despite the fact that it’s ridiculous that in a technologically advanced, spacefaring society, you’d entrust such critical functions to a fallible living being, when computers are clearly far better suited to the tasks of target identification and the precision timing required for aiming and shooting. Peter Serafinowicz (29 points in Scrabble, in case you’re curious) gets an awesome heroic death, and in the end it comes down to a simple face off between our heroes and the despicable Ronan. Now, what happens next isn’t completely clear, but the heroes held hands with each other and this caused… something… to happen. Whatever it was, it went well, all things considered. But then you knew that it would. There’s a moment between Drax and Rocket which I consider to be an absolute triumph in cinema, in that it is simultaneously hilarious yet emotional – a combination which is quite, quite rare. The ending of the film is a little bit of a tease, in that it indicates sacrifices being made by our heroes, but then it immediately cancels them out so that you don’t feel too down. Which feels like a cop-out, but then I’m also aware that it’s a very funny film, and it would be a shame to kill that buzz.

The next film on our agenda will be the sequel to this film, the imaginatively-titled Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2, and this time it will be the Bernadious one’s turn to write the review. I think, but I’m not 100% sure, that Karen and I have also seen this one before. Let’s see.

Pete
  • Comments: 1
  • No proper nouns. Surely you know this. - Karen
July 27, 2019

Alcohol-Free Beers (Part Five)

(View previous instalments here)

Loads of new alcohol-free beer experiences to report from the last month and a bit, a new review post is long overdue.

Pistonhead Flat Tyre

Another lager here. I wasn’t so impressed with this one. There does seem to be a little hint of a pleasant flavour snuggled away back there, but it’s drowned out an abrasive sourness. I suspect that the flavour goal with this one was more of a hoppy IPA than a traditional lager, but it doesn’t really succeed due to an overall lack of smoothness. The head is initially very buoyant indeed, as you see in the photo, but it faded very quickly.

San Miguel 0.0

Another one that claims to be a lager but doesn’t really taste much like one. This one has a fair bit of that sweet maltiness that we’ve seen in a few beers – not to the extent of the undrinkable St Peter’s Original, but more akin to the Old Speckled Hen. It’s something that you get used to, and so, like the OSH, this is one that I’ll gladly drink if it’s what the pub’s got going, but in situations where there is a wider variety on offer, it probably won’t be my preferred choice.

Ghost Ship (draft)

I know I’ve reviewed Ghost Ship before, but this time it was on draft in a pub so I felt like it deserved a second outing. The venue in question was Soho Theatre. Given the Ghost Ship was one of the first alcohol-free beers I tried, I’ve always wondered if I was judging it from a different perspective, that of a normal beer drinker rather than an alcohol-free beer drinker, and if this meant that my review was unnecessarily harsh. I’m always someone who likes to try to acknowledge and challenge their own prejudices. So, with an open mind and an open mouth, I sampled this pint, ready to find lots of great things to say about it. Disappointingly, it tasted much the same as it did that first time, so the Ghost Ship remains mired in the leagues with all the other alcohol-free beers which I consider to be not awful but not really very good either.

Patronus

Wingardium leviosa! etc etc. Now that that’s out of the way, this stuff was bought for me by Karen from… I think it was Lidl. Or maybe it was Aldi. Is there a difference? Who knows. This stuff is a wheat beer, it comes in pints, which seems to be pretty common for the alcohol free wheat beers. It’s a fantastic chunky little beer, feels really thick in the mouth and the flavour is no slouch either, a really dense biscuity fruity gobful. It also doesn’t seem to have that medicinal quality that you get in some wheat beers. Good stuff, would definitely drink again. And yes, it is as cloudy as it looks in the photo.

Budweiser Prohibition

Another “out and about” alcohol free beer experience here, I was in Kew Gardens with Karen and Bernard and my sister. My sister is also, coincidentally, not drinking alcohol at the moment, owing to her own health issues which are unrelated to mine. We stopped off for a small and terrifically expensive cake in the cafe, and decided to also give this beer a try, hence the reason why there are two cans on the table.

Alcohol-free? Everything-free more like. This just tastes like it’s been watered down. In fact, if you put this into a can labelled “soda water” and gave it to me to try, I wouldn’t say “hey, someone’s put beer into this soda water can!” I’d say “engh, this soda water tastes a bit mingin.” In future I will steer clear of this abject piss with every fibre of my being.

Cobra Zero

This time we’re in Thespian’s indian restaurant in Stratford-on-Avon. The beer is a bit disappointing – another one of those ones that’s got way too much of the sweet unfermented malt thing going on. Unlike the San Miguel, this one just pushes it too far, and when the waiter came round to ask if we wanted any more drinks, I declined a second and plumped for a lime and soda instead. So that probably tells you all you need to know. In the lager rankings, while this one isn’t the absolutely bottom of the pile (the Budweiser Prohibition wins that by a country mile) it’s pretty close.

Peroni Libera

Back when I first extended this blog series to include lagers, in part three, I mentioned some of the situations in which I would always consider drinking lager, one of which was a Peroni with a pizza. And today, in the Zizzi in Stratford-on-Avon, I had a chance to do exactly that, and sample Peroni’s effort at an alcohol-free beer. On the whole, I’d say it is a success! I wouldn’t go so far as to say that in a blind taste test between this and the regular Peroni, I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference, however I would say that this is, like the Free Damm and the Brooklyn Special Effects and the Clausthaler, not just “nice for an alcohol-free beer” but “nice for a lager”.

The cumulative effect of drinking some of these beers, and I suppose that the Peroni is the straw that broke the camel’s back, is that I now find myself entertaining a hypothetical scenario: say my health issues disappeared overnight, and I was now back in the situation of being able to drink whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted – would I go back to drinking alcoholic beers? There are a few factors at play. Obviously there are some great alcohol free beers available, and when you’re drinking the good ones, it doesn’t feel like a compromise at all. There are all-round health benefits. And when you’re in the situation where you can pick and choose, like when you’re at a well-stocked supermarket picking up some beer for drinking at home, there’s the opportunity to bring home some drinks that taste just as good as their alcoholic counterparts. But the big sticking point, as far as I can see, is that pubs and restaurants still have such a limited range on offer. In my experience, the majority have one alcohol-free lager on offer, and that’s it. It might be one of the good ones, but then again it might not. So, going back to my hypothetical situation, I have to say that I probably would go back to drinking alcoholic beer again in pubs and restaurants, just because that would be the only way of having any choice in the matter. The offering that pubs and restaurants make to people who want alcohol free beer is basically “here’s a lager, and be glad that we’re even giving you that.” whereas for people who want alcoholic beer it’s “ooh, you can have any of these lagers or these ales or these ciders and there’s Guinness too.” Sadly I don’t see this changing any time soon, but we can dream.

Right, that was a long one. I was worried that this project would slow down as I exhausted the options available on the shelves at the supermarket, but if anything, it’s accelerating!

Pete
July 3, 2019

The MCU Project: Captain America A Winter Soldier [2014]

This whole project was my idea, so I shouldn’t really moan, but the general tone of Bernard’s last review seems applicable here as well. Another standard superhero movie with lots of explosions. With having a recurring cast of characters, there is plenty of opportunity for those characters to grow and develop, but what you see of that is forced and fake.

We watched this on Friday night with home made pizza. Making pizza has long been a tradition in Casa Uborka, and it is notable that this was the first time young Bernard has really got stuck into helping with it. He made the bespoke tomato sauce, with herbs from the garden, and also did the topping design. It could probably have done with a slightly hotter oven, but was satisfying all the same.

Unlike this movie, which is mainly about some sort of ocean-based crisis with very large flying weapons. As you may have figured out from the title, this movie is about Captain America, whose chemical-based superpowers make him really good at jumping. He is accompanied, prettily, by Black Widow, who kills people with cartwheels kind of like me in a Les Mills Body Combat class but considerably more graceful and more effective. BW stands in for all the girly girls in this movie, and therefore has to be rescued a couple of times.

The main theme of the movie is trust. It’s subtle, but if you watch carefully you will pick up on this. Who can you trust? Trust nobody. Seriously. We didn’t.

The evil baddie in this movie is a Herr Flic type played by that lovely guy from The Detectorists, and something to do with an algorithm, which they don’t expect you to understand. You know this because all descriptions of what it is and what it does are utterly garbled nonsense. In the end, of course, it fails to do what it was supposed to do, however I gather there is some foreshadowing of a successful attempt to commit similar genocide in a future movie. So that’s something to look forward to.

CAAWS has less cgi in it than the other films we’ve seen so far, a lot of stormtrooper shooting, and at least one highly implausible car chase. There is not one single witty line in the entire script, and the best thing about it was when my knitting took a turn for the interesting. What’s up next? Who knows, but I predict there will be a great deal of shooting and white men saving the earth.

Karen