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Monthly Archives: February 2015

The question you want to ask everytime there’s a threat to humanity: “Why don’t the other Avengers just help out?” is half-answered here as Captain America (Chris Evans) teams up with Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson).

Captain America. He has an (almost) indestructible shield but it’s not very large. So how does he cope with a group of soldiers with machine-guns spraying bullets in his direction? Not a problem –  they will handily aim directly at the target-like design on his shield (never at his exposed legs). Helpfully his assailants will often shoot bullets at his shield long enough for him to angle it and deflect the bullets back at them.

There are a few moments like that in this movie that you need to suspend your disbelief for – maybe too many. This sequel though is definitely an improvement over the OK yet rather bland 2010 original, Captain America : The First Avenger in which weakling asthmatic army recruit Chris Evans was transformed into towering musclebound super-soldier Captain America by an experimental serum. Just like his character Evans has now grown into the role. There’s less nostalgia-tinged 1950s matinee idol about Captain America this time around although he still has enough of those old-fashioned qualities to make him honourable and admirable.

The story begins well, with the concealed threat of Hydra gradually revealed. This is followed by a great set piece in which Captain America has to fend off an attack from ten Hydra agents in a cramped elevator. Forced onto the run he teams up with fellow S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). But can she be trusted? In fact can anyone be trusted?

The subtitle of the film: ‘The Winter Soldier’ refers to a mysterious masked assassin (Sebastian Stan) who has never failed and whose actions have shaped much of history. Soon his target becomes Captain America himself.

This is an entertaining and tense film, with Evans, Johansson and Samuel L. Jackson (as S.H.I.E.L.D. head Nick Fury) all on good form. My main issue was one of predictability. Having seen most, if not all of the previous Marvel super hero films *SPOILERS ALERT*, I instinctively knew that when Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) boasted about his three huge brand new hovering armoured fortresses – they would end up being used against S.H.I.E.L.D. I also immediately knew  when one of the main characters died – despite appearances to the contrary – that they weren’t actually dead. It was just too obvious that they wouldn’t kill off this particular character.

Overall this could have done with being more believable (within it’s universe) and also would have been better if it had diverted from the now well established Marvel-movie formula a little more. Otherwise this is a pretty good super-hero film. There’s a slightly unspectacular and unsaitsfying finale but this is redeemed by a touching ending. A solid 7/10.

Slimane’s step-daughter Rym (Hafsia Herzi) entertains the guests at the opening of his new cous cous restaurant.

In one way this film is amazing. It transports you into someone else’s life – in this case SIimane (Habib Boufares) a 60-year-old Tunisian immigrant in France. It does such a good job that you actually feel these are real people that you are around – not just actors. You’ll experience moments of drama, high emotion, boredom, voyeurism and even everyday moments where you just feel part of the family. Some of this is due to the way the film is shot – with the camera often pointing directly at people’s faces capturing every emotion and expression and in general just moving about all over the place. It might be imitating a sudden head movement to watch a new character enter the room or just focussing on the expression on the face of an onlooker – exactly as your eyes would in real life.

Slimane who has recently been laid-off from his job at the shipyard decides to open a cous cous restaurant with his ex-wife as cook (she makes damn good cous cous – you are left in little doubt about this at an earlier family meal which can only be described as food porn). However Slimane’s new lover (Hatika Karaoui) is understandably not pleased at this sleight to her cooking skills and also by his apparent lack of loyalty and this inevitably this leads to tension and arguments. But if only this was all Slimane had to worry about…

Another boon about the film is the way that Slimane – although in no doubt the central character – is left out of many scenes as the director takes what might otherwise be background characters and brings them to the foreground. Out of the films I have seen recently this is the one that most mirrors real life in that all the characters are fully rounded and not just depicted as ‘good’ and ‘bad’ characters. These are for the most part good kind people but they are still gossipy, sly, temperamental, disloyal or sulky depending on circumstance.

Negatives  – it’s just like real life so it’s not overly dramatic and at almost 3 hours long it does naturally drag in a couple of places. There’s also a scene at the end where Slimane keeps doing something stupid (I’m avoiding spoilers by not being specific) in a situation where a normal person would have said “f*ck it!” and given up almost immediately. This is the one place where the story isn’t realistic and it’s a blot on an otherwise very believable narrative.

Great acting, great camerawork and a great film 8/10