Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Captain America The Winter Soldier

Captain America: The Winter Soldier starring Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Robert Redford and Samuel L. Jackson

The latest chapter in the Marvel Studios superhero franchise is the second Captain America film, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the ninth film to arrive since Marvel began dominating the big screen in the superhero category.

This is the latest film to come out of the ever-growing Marvel universe in what has shaped up to be one of the most impressive movie strategies of all time. Marvel Studios has been releasing one to two films a year with enough of a tie-in to each other to ultimately connect them all. Each of these movies are a lead-up to the second Avengers film, Avengers: Age of Ultron, which will probably be the biggest movie in the history of superhero movies.

So is background in the series needed for this film? Not necessarily. For those of us who are newcomers (myself included. This is the fourth movie from the Marvel Cinematic Universe I’ve seen – the first Captain America not among them, and I’ve never read the comics), enough backstory is provided or implied to get the gist of what is going on, though it’s helpful to go in prepared anyway.

Starring Chris Evans as the titular hero, Captain America is now working for S.H.I.E.L.D. in the aftermath of the events from The Avengers as he continues to adjust to modern life. The story takes a familiar approach to the digital apocalypse that uses information gathered to anticipate people who are deemed future threats to world security.

In other words, the plot doesn’t seem to be central to the film, at least compared to the significance of Captain America’s relationships with S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and the so-called Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), whose presence seems limited considering his placement in the film’s title.

The underwhelming plot is made up by character development and lots of flash and glamour in the way of futuristic technology and battle scenes. Mind you, the technology-boasting isn’t quite Mission: Impossible or James Bond level and the effects are far enough away still from being likened to a Michael Bay flick, but it still brings unnecessary clutter.

For those more in tune with the Marvel universe, I can only refer you to those in-the-know who have in fact deemed The Winter Soldier as one of the best of the series so far. For those like me, I went into the film with no expectations and came out of it satisfied.

I’m hardly the target for these films but I appreciate the effort put into making a film that appeals to the diehards without shunning potential newcomers. It’s an incredible feat to attempt and actually pull off.

Yet, when you think about it, it doesn’t even matter whether these films have universal appeal as long as they continue to appeal to the already established fans because they have such a large pull. The roll-out of these movies has been well-received and continue to get even better as the stage gets set for the next Avengers film. It’s an all-around winning formula and there’s no turning back now.
Four stars

Six things about Lady Gaga at the closing the Roseland Ballroom

Lady Gaga performed seven shows as part of the closing of New York City’s iconic Roseland Ballroom. The venue, originally opened in 1917, sat in its current home on West 52nd until it closed its doors for the final time last night.

Gaga was selected to be the final performer for the venue likely because she has been outspoken about her ties to New York since breaking out in 2008. I was lucky enough to attend one of the shows (April 4) where I got to see Gaga pretty up close, especially in comparison to previous times I saw her. Continue reading

Juno win or Juno fail


The 43rd Juno Awards were held last night in Winnipeg, highlighting the best of Canadian music for the last year or so. Being a fan of many Canadian artists, the Junos have long held a special seat during awards season for me, even if I rarely agree with most aspects of how they work.

While the Junos are known by many to award the best in Canadian music, my biggest criticism has been that it often sticks with the most popular Canadian artists who have attained international fame within the period of eligibility. If an artist had a big year in the United States, by default they almost always have a good year at the Junos. Continue reading

Muppets Most Wanted

After the Muppets were reintroduced to young generations in 2011′s The Muppets, they faced the challenge of following it up with something just as entertaining, heartwarming and funny.

The challenge is met with in the film as the Muppets are about to set out on a comeback world tour to capitalize on their resurgence with new tour manager Dominic Badguy (Ricky Gervais) – pronounced “bædgee”, it’s french.

Badguy insists they start their tour in Berlin and, as we quickly discover, he has ulterior motives that involve an uncanny lookalike to our beloved Kermit: Constantine. Continue reading

Soundtrack – Divergent

Divergent Soundtrack

The comparison of Divergent to the Hunger Games is inevitable. Both take place in a future dystopian society with a strong female as the protagonist in a story based on a novel trilogy. Like the two Hunger Games films before it, Divergent has made strong use of a soundtrack to help accompany the story.

Unlike the first Hunger Games soundtrack, however, there doesn’t seem to be a central theme in the songs selected for the Divergent music. This is the real weakness for the soundtrack that shows its inconsistencies early on. Continue reading

Brandy Clark – 12 Stories

Brandy Clark - 12 Stories

Every once in a while, a songwriter will come along with the ability to grab hold of a particular genre and turn it on its head by presenting a whole new perspective to the tried and true. In a different time, Brandy Clark would be redefining modern-day country music with her sharp lyrics that have just enough bite to still be clean and crisp.

Brandy’s songwriting isn’t full of euphemisms. That would be too easy. Instead she sticks with tradition and extends beyond the expected by delicately painting a portrait that is still on point with subject matter like adultery, revenge and an ode to getting high. Continue reading

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