Monday, 9 June 2014

Edge of Tomorrow

After aliens named ‘mimics’ invade central Europe, it is up to a conglomeration of the world’s armies to stop them fighting onwards, creating a front on the French coast. William Cage (Tom Cruise) is one of these soldiers sent to fight in portable ‘mecha’ suits, however after being killed by the mimics he awakens a day before the attack, caught in an endless loop whereby him and superior solider Rita (Emily Blunt), must find a way to stop them in their tracks.  

Despite a pretty generic ad campaign, making the film look like ‘another product’ of the blockbuster machine, Edge of Tomorrow proves to be a surprisingly fun time. The fight on the French coast which takes up a large proportion of the film, repeated many times as the protagonist begins the loop over and over, is as brutally violent as it is terrific fun. The sight of seeing the soldiers launched across the beach from the claws of the ‘mimics’ isn’t exactly a friendly sight, being quite sinister in fact, but this is perfectly counterbalanced by the films ‘comic-book’ approach to violence as for every dark act there is another action slide and quirky comment ready to balance the tone. This leads the film to depend on some clichés however, infrequently throughout, as the script reminds the audience of its blockbuster background with such generic lines such as ‘you’re a good solider Cage’ etc. etc. etc.

The looping narrative, used in countless films of the past, is kept contemporary here, preventing boredom through the use of intelligent cinematography, with time-lapses preventing the repetition of familiar scenes. The act of repetition itself is explained very efficiently leaving no continuity issues as we’re shown the repetition of even the smallest acts, such as discussing tactics, showing  to be surprisingly entertaining again through the screenplay and cinematography, which intelligently shows us the painstaking repeated efforts of the protagonists. This is made all the more realistic through the fantastic performance of the two leads, Emily Blunt and Tom Cruise. Blunt, playing the rarely portrayed strong female character, does so tremendously, outperforming all her male counterparts to break the mould of female side-characters, with a complex persona and developed backstory. Cruise is as good as ever, perhaps better than average here however as his enjoyment in the role becomes transparent in his performance, taking on the role as a scared and desperate soldier with gusto and enthusiasm within a film well informed of its own identity.

Edge of Tomorrow should be embraced by audiences, not primarily because of its narrative quality and intelligence (though that is of course a winning factor), but because of its originality and charm. Not often does a standalone action blockbuster hit our screens with no announcement of a sequel before its release, and as a result, with few fans and conglomerate companies to answer to, Edge of Tomorrow shows to be a solidly entertaining film from start to finish.

7/10- A neat and tidy action packed blockbuster. What more could you want.

Calum Russell

Thursday, 29 May 2014

X-Men: Days of Future Past

 Of the three current superhero franchises, the X-men is one which often takes a back-seat, letting the quality powerhouse of MARVELS cinematic universe and Spider-man's box office abilities take the mantle whilst it cleans up their scraps. Recently however, despite the increase of interest in superhero films, their quality has certainly lowered, leaving a gap in the market for the X-Men to seize. Unfortunately however X-Men Days of future past is simply another mark in the ever growing superhero genre, doing nothing to differentiate itself from the crowd.

In the mind-bending plot for this instalment we join Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), Magneto (Ian Mckellan) and Storm (Halle Berry) (but who really cares about her), amongst other mutants, fighting for their survival in an apocalyptic world in which their lives are threatened by deadly 'Sentinals'. To stop this world from ever existing Wolverine is sent back in time to alter the course of history, whereupon drama ensues. Discarding the immediate submersion of the audience into the plot, with near to no context whatsoever (leaving us confused more than anything), the opening quarter of this film is really quite impressive, unique and gripping. Usually we join our favourite heroes at a high point in their lives, loved by all, with the riches to match, here however they're in immediate peril,  putting the audience on the back foot, intrigued and surprised by the unfolding plot. This hits a notable change following one of the most well realised and cinematically impressive scenes in superhero film history, whereupon cock-sure, rebel Quicksilver (Evan Peters), breaks Magneto out of a high security prison. Without the prior knowledge of his character, within the performance of Evan Peters the scene is carried and his character is thrown in the faces of the audience, bursting with enthusiasm and charm. Quicksilver is by far the best thing about X-Men and before you know it he's gone... gone where...gone home...why, no one knows. This is quite simply lazy writing, taking the time and effort to build such a great character before discarding him, realising he was only needed for momentary plot conveniences before we are once again reunited with the cardboard cut-out heroes. This isn't however the only character to be frustratingly underused, no, there's a whole host of 10- odd heroes which we don't even get to hear speak or even know the names of. Introduced in a visually stunning opening scene we immediately relate to these new character who we presume will be built upon, but who are instead pushed to the background once the familiar heroes return thus making us care very little for and about them when their character arches grow.The poor writing however isn't just restricted to narrative conveniences and poor characterisation, the dialogue is also , at points, cringe-worthy as we listen to Xavier deliver a whimsical speech about 'life' and 'identity' for  what seems to be the majority of the film. This immediately takes you out the film as you take a minute out to sigh at the previous line of unrealistic nonsense.

On the whole, the plot is handled rather well, with the central idea of time travel, often murdered in Hollywood releases, being used quite intelligently and interestingly here, with relatively few continuity bugs. Furthermore for the most part it seems as though the X-men franchise has finally abandoned its reliance on star Wolverine, whom as interesting as he is, has been done, done and double done by the franchise, consistently leaving others in the dark. Here he seems more vulnerable and more human and thus more relatable, as the heroes are faced with the 'Sentinals', unstoppable beings who promise to finally cure the MARVEL virus of their films being so risk averse...oh wait here comes the ending. Too many times in superhero films has a grand and game changing event been repaired by a films ending and of course X-Men follows suit with perhaps the most obvious backhanded slap to the audience which Hollywood has ever given. Ultimately the films ending makes the whole films narrative lifeless, leaving you with no real feelings towards the film when you leave, feeling as though it was just...well.... pointless.

X-men Days of Future Past is certainly a disappointment boasting a stellar cast, with great performances throughout, but with no substance to back it up. The script is boggy, heavy and hugely misunderstood as we build bonds with new exciting characters, only for them to be instantly sidelined, despite our remaining craving. X-men is empty of emotion, story, character and direction.

5/10- Like a quickly deflating balloon, once fun and interesting, but ultimately dead and lifeless.

Calum Russell

Monday, 28 April 2014

Under the Skin

Known usually for her Hollywood stardom and role in the MARVEL universe, actress Scarlett Johansson's new film, Under the Skin removes her from this familiar niche and places her in quite literally a completely different world of terrifying visuals and a hugely immersive narrative.

At the helm of a white van, Johansson  plays the role of an alien, dolled up with jet black hair, a glamorous fur coat and promiscuous make-up, left to prowl the streets of Scotland searching for potential prey. Despite appearing to seem as though the narrative would lack longevity, Under the Skin is mostly engaging throughout due to its hugely impressive visuals and outstanding soundtrack. Immediately throwing us into the deep end, the film refuses to give us any context of the aliens arrival and continues to leave the audience in the dark throughout, allowing us to decipher a message for ourselves. Daring to be different, this is obvious in the cinematography, opting for hugely long takes, allowing the audience to experience the world though Johanssons eyes, analysing every detail to try and conjure up an understanding of the place around her. Such is made all the more interesting by the actual content of each frame with each shot capable of being still pieces of art , crafted with such care and attention. This coincides with the unbelievably impressive score which keeps you consistently agitated  at what the next scene holds. No matter the on-screen action, the soundtrack alone holds the capabilities of making you feel uneasy even when the protagonist is simply walking down the road in the middle of the day. Both of these come to a head in a poignant early scene  whereby two of the aliens' victims interact with each other, the dark sound is categorically unplaceable and the visuals nightmarish, ultimately resulting in perhaps the most chilling single scene in any film of recent memory.

This creepy atmosphere is successfully sustained throughout, largely due to the terrifyingly realistic tone of the whole film. With a lot of the actors used on the streets of Glasgow being normal passers-by, their inclusion in the film works incredibly well, giving a documentary feel to the opening half of the film especially, as Johanssons character seduces them into her lair. This realism is what truly makes Under the Skin such a triumph, affecting the viewer long-term, altering their perception of reality, as for 90 minutes we believe that we have literally just seen the world through the eyes of an alien, and when the audience finally leaves, what they see around them is confused with the films vision of the world. It has genuine profound effects on the viewer, leaving a blanket of messages on the spectator which eventually seeps under the skin preventing the discard of the film and its values. Such is helped also by the fantastic performance of Scarlett Johansson, forced to carry the film as the only professional actor, done so with incredible power and character, allowing the audience to believe and understand her every decision.

Despite being incredibly hard to decipher, Under the Skin encourages analysis and multiple viewings and such is desired after one has watched the film, eager to once again inhabit the eerie mind of a foreign being. The film is hugely ambitious, inviting a specific demographic of viewer to revel in the unconventional style and hugely minimalist tone and plot, however this certainly pays off, delivering a film rich in hearty messages that is a hugely engrossing and interesting watch.

9/10- A visceral film experience like no other.

Calum Russell

Thursday, 17 April 2014

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Whilst the MARVEL’S the Avengers and Fox’s X-Men have both already found their feet with a grounded storyline and a fully realised cinematic future, the newly rebooted spider-man franchise is yet to fully establish itself as a series worthy of inclusion in the superhero renaissance. Deemed as quite simply ‘OK’ by critics and audiences alike the first film had no real driving force with a poorly crafted protagonist and a similarly awful villain. However, although The Amazing Spider-Man 2 looks to replicate the poor reception of Spider-man 3 (2007) with a large roster of enemies, the film is actually quite the opposite, with relatively solid villains, within a fun and flashy narrative.

Following off from the events of the first film, Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is attempting to juggle his responsibilities, tied between the care and protection of girlfriend Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), or the safeguard of New York City from newly emerged villain Electro (Jamie Foxx).

A lot can be said about a film from its opening sequence, and whilst the original trilogy preferred to begin each film with needless exposition whilst we see Spider-man swing through the city, in Spidey’s newest outing we begin with a genuinely exhilarating and pivotal action sequence; whereby we’re introduced to Parkers birth parents. This immediately sparked intrigue, displaying a more plot-driven film by choosing to put this instead of the web-slinging action scene which follows it. The action itself is both hugely fun, with the inclusion of some wacky humour and one-liners, as well as genuinely impactful with each kick, punch and web to the face feeling as though it would leave a hefty injury, if not an irritating mark. This aids in giving the film a significant sense of peril, an attribute which the MARVEL cinematic universe doesn’t possess, making the audience wary of each and every character as their weaknesses become transparent. Whilst in previous spider-man films his one liners felt overly cheesy and unnecessary, here in the action scenes they are embraced as part of Peter Parkers much realised character, being a cheeky, charismatic teenager. In addition when they’re used win the presence of an engrossing action scene, even the more whimsical ones are ignored. Even the 3-D here seems to work, gloating its effectiveness quite evidently in the truly spectacular swinging sequences, with some POV shots which genuinely feel exhilarating.

Although the action, the villains and Spider-man’s visually awesome web slinger are perceived to be the main selling points of the film, it is in fact the deeper, more intellectual plot of Parkers relationship with Stacey which truly stimulates the audience. Such care for these characters makes us become more involved within the general story as well as the otherwise meaningless action scenes, giving us something to root for, encouraging the protagonist onwards. Such chemistry between the two leads is partly due to the fantastic acting performances of both Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone whose off-screen relationship surely translates in front of the camera.

It is with this initial thrill of The Amazing Spider-man 2 which makes the remainder of the film a little disappointing, introducing villains with little to no development. Despite having three villains, the film delegates their screen time very well with Rhino (Paul Giamatti), the fun yet psychotic convict introduced in the thrilling opening sequence setting up the film nicely for Electro and Harry Osbourne (Dane DeHaan) to take centre stage. It is however when Electro emerges, despite his jazzy transformation sequence, that the film takes a wrong turn, favouring overly flashy action set-pieces and corny dialogue over the central, more interesting story of Parkers personal struggles. Electro is visually very impressive, with bolts of electricity being seen worming through his body as he stands, however his exterior seems to be the films single concern with his inner drive being very poorly developed, despite being nicely introduced in the film’s opening. Electros intentions are hugely unclear and we, as the audience, therefore find it very difficult to connect with him, especially as his blue physique makes him look more like an alien than a human being. His characters simply a little bland, aided certainly by the sporadically poor script, handing talented actor Jamie Foxx clichéd lines that makes his character seem more like a video-game ‘boss’, rather than a grounded villain. This must have a similar effect on other villain Harry Osbourne, who despite holding a nice backstory, with a childhood connection with Parker, is instead wasted with badly constructed motivations which make little sense. In fact his presence in general felt largely rushed, turning form good fiend into evil genius within a matter of days, making him (like Electro) feel more like a cliché.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 gets a whole lot right and finally puts both Sony and the superhero on the cinematic map after years of ‘ups and downs’. The key to the success of the film is the concentration on character and the pitch-perfect representation of most lead protagonists. It’s just a little bizarre that the same chemistry cannot be said for the films villains who feel like feeble ‘bad-guy templates’ in comparison. That said, this film is a poignant mark for the franchise, and perhaps the most well-rounded Spider-Man film of the whole characters cinematic representation.

7.5/10- Fun, thrilling and fittingly dark, a surprising return to form.

Calum Russell

Monday, 7 April 2014

The Double

Of the talent that has recently emerged from the British film industry, it is that of Richard Ayoade and his debut picture Submarine (2010) which have both been the most poignant successes. His second film, The Double, is quite the test, to see if Ayoade can handle dense narrative's, with a far darker tone, contrasting with his comedic background. Despite holding a very gloomy premise however, Ayoade manages to insert his unique style of comedy as well as an intelligent kick to ultimately make this film an engrossing watch.

 Based on Dyskoyofskys novel of the same name, The Double concerns James (Jesse Eisenberg), an average, if overly timid young man, living in a dystopian world of gloomy surroundings where he seeks the  love of Hannah (Mia Wasikowska) restrained by his lack of confidence. This is until his duplicate, Simon (also played by Jesse Eisenberg) arrives, both helping and hindering his efforts.

Knowing already that Ayoade could tell an accurate portrayal of love, seen in his previous film, this was an unsurprising yet openly embraced feature in The Double, somehow displaying a grounded story within a setting of such absurdity.This is no overreaction, with its world being just as wacky as Wes Andersons and just as eccentric as Terry Gilliam's, with evident inspiration coming from both these directors. Yet, as bizarre as the setting is, unlike Gilliams works which are sometimes a little too detached from reality, The Doubles design is hilariously reminiscent to real life from its foreign and clunky technology to its dark representation of the workspace and the society which surrounds us. This atmosphere is lifted by the inclusion of some undoubtedly dark humour, which, depending on individual taste, will most likely make you leave the film feeling light-hearted, as appose to suicidal; coincidently a prominent theme of the film. Much of this humour comes from the performance of Paddy Considine who is only ever viewed through a television screen on a budget sci-fi programme, but whose corny wit coincides perfectly with the similarly toned programme, acting as light relief which contrasts hilariously with heavy narrative. The narrative itself holds up well throughout, maintaining audience attention mainly through the ways in which it's presented, with the films mesmerising cinematography and hugely inventive choice of sound keeping you stimulated and constantly guessing till the final note.This is aided by the fantastic performance of Jesse Eisenberg who is forced to uphold the whole film, often talking to his doppelgänger eliciting opposite emotions at the same time as maintaining a realistic conversation  to a convincing and comedic degree.

The Double is one of those films which you will not only need to watch twice, but also one which you'll want to watch twice with plentiful detail which makes every viewing unique. It looses its way a little in the closing act, rushing through the previously well told narrative, making the conclusion a little puzzling however not so much so that it makes the film a disappointment. No, The Double is quite the opposite, taking on a heavy and ambitious plot with enough creativity and light heartedness to make a film which should be fairly depressing into one which is surprisingly uplifting.

8.5/10- Hugely inventive and comedically sinister, The Double will keep you thinking for days.

Calum Russell

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier- Spoilers

Captain America 2 has just been released pretty much worldwide with to both audience and critical acclaim even being compared to the success of 2012's Avengers. Cap 2 isn't that bad at all, in fact as a standalone film its pretty good, but in a franchise in which we've come to expect so much, this film was a disappointment.

These issues are made more evident through the  the overwhelmingly positive reviews the film is receiving.

  • Where was Hawkeye?

Don't lie to yourself, no one really likes hawkeye. Perhaps in the comics yes, with his slick purple attire, but not in the films. His bland and underdeveloped character are both hindrances to a hero already bogged down by an unimpressive power, in comparison to the other Avengers.

Some of his only known background in the films is that he works for SHIELD, so...where is he? His appearance in the film would have been extremely fitting and would've worked in neat collaboration with the whole main cast. Think about it, Nick Fury, Falcon, Black Widow and even Captain America to an extent, don't really have any magnificent powers, Hawkeye would've fitted in with all the characters being seen as an equal in the process. That said, however the appearance of Hawkeye as well as the main three heroes would've been a little too messy, however a decrease in the screen time of the bland Black Widow would've allowed Hawkeye time to at the very least make a cameo. Besides in the film Black Widow wears a pendant of an arrow, harking to Hawkeye's character, and considering the subtle relationship they both have, it's bizarre that he doesn't appear... but don't worry you can catch him in the original Thor... doing literally nothing.

  • Stop Tricking us into thinking someone's died 

This is a fairly new trend which has plagued Phase 2 of MARVEL in-particular, appearing in all three of the films so far. An issue with all superhero movies is that we pretty much know for certain that the main character isn't going to die. Whether that's because their film is part of a franchise and we KNOW we're going to see them again (for example in the Avengers 2) or simply that the bad guy is so bad that, for the sake of it being a children's film, they cannot win. This therefore makes it very tricky to create a sense of peril in MARVEL movies as we know that nearly every time the hero is going to come out completely unscathed. MARVEL think they've found a way around this by killing off a main character, before bringing them back minutes later.

This can be seen in Cap 2 when Nick Fury is 'killed'. As he is so pivotal to the story however, the audience knows he isn't dead, therefore there is no point in killing him in the first place, it's simply a waste of time.
Through killing people and bringing them back to life MARVEL is damaging itself creating an atmosphere in their films whereby nothing can go wrong and where there is no sense of peril. This forces us care less for the characters and makes the dramatic scenes far less dramatic, thus making their films on the whole less engaging and entertaining. Imagine if characters actually died in MARVEL movies, especially someone so big like Nick Fury,  the Avengers team would go mental, showing their true selves, making the fight scenes in The Avengers 2 not only entertaining but also emotionally involving.

  • The Winter what?

With the hindsight on watching Captain America:The Winter Soldier it is quite obvious who the 'bad guy' is. It isn't this 'Russian Assassin'  that MARVEL has been shouting to us about in trailers and various other media platforms, the main villain is actually SHIELD. This was a great twist, which in a way, inverts the functioning of the MARVEL universe, and what ultimately makes the film an important, if monotonous, addition to the franchise.

 Some of the best scenes in the film involved the bemusement of the SHIELD workers as they looked around puzzled at who to trust, reflecting a sincere crisis which is grounded in real life. The infiltration of SHIELD is led by the fantastic Robert Redford, who is gifted perhaps the best scene in the MARVEL franchise so far, seen when he murders his housekeeper after she overhears a top secret conversation, showing the man's hatred and sadistic drive all through one action. With such a fantastic villain underlying the film, it is ultimately a shame that he's not seen more often, replaced by the dumb military antics of the bland Winter Solider.

 This film would be exactly the same, if not better, without the winter soldier in it, heck he even has a cooler, more characterised counterpart in Hydra solider 'crossbones', who could've quite easily replaced him in his role. His only function in the film is to fire his gun and replicate a, walking, talking cliché, with his final movements being unbelievably foreseeable. His character follows the typical story of a man loosing his memory, as he turns on his best mate, before Captain America reminds him of his previous self through an 'emotional speech', until eventually The Winter Soldier joins Captain Americas side.

 This is furthermore yet another example of a character, dying and coming back to life.

  •  Inconsistency

Superhero movies, or more accurately MARVEL movies, follow quite a straightforward formula. Everything's fine, till a villain shows up and demonstrates their power, the superhero is then in disarray, and then  eventually overcomes the evil.

 This was starting to get boring, which was why I was so excited to watch Cap 2, showing a premise of action packed espionage entwined with sinister politics that looked different and more appropriate to Captain America's character. This movie is far from this intelligent exterior which it presents.

 It starts so well, peaking at the 'death' of Nick Fury whereby the audience is completely stunned at the story that's taking place, immediately turning the MARVEL universe on its head. After this however, the film forgets that its political storyline ever existed and resorts to violence to tell its story. Redford attempts to uphold any sense of intelligence in the final few scenes however his plans are thwarted by the heroes who look incredibly childish in comparison to the clever plot. This contrast between the classy first half of the movie and the dumb second half, only highlights this issue further, like three sugar pumped kids hijacked the script, smearing the final pages with their sticky hands and lack of patience, creating a mess.
 This made the movie, not bad, but incredibly frustrating as the potential was evident, however the final performance lacked any kind of impact.

- This movie's not that bad, heck if it was the first of the Phase 2 movies I would have probably quite liked it. But it's not, it's the third in the ongoing MARVEL franchise and the first film where cracks in the MARVEL franchise have started to show, taking few risks, with plot structures which are identical to the last movie. This movie is part of a franchise, meaning these films aren't going to stop being released any time soon. Since this is the case, why not mix things up a bit and leave the heroes on a bad note, where for example, Captain America has been imprisoned , leading to an exciting opening sequence at the start of The Avengers 2 which would establish a great tone for the start of the film and allow for further character development as we see the heroes in a more desperate situation.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier was a good film, but it wasn't great. It's the potential within the film which makes me so annoyed, promising so much but delivering so little. It felt like a mid-point in Phase 2, nothing special, not the worst, not the best just...meh.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

In recent years MARVEL has been dominating the film industry, delighting fans and coming out on top of the worldwide box office for both 2012 and 2013. Such success is most probably down to the cock-sure Iron Man and perhaps not the substantially less exciting Captain America, whose standard powers and unestablished personality contrast significantly with the other heroes. Although we want to like Captain America, almost as the good natured underdog, there is simply nothing to root for, he's a 'clipart' image of a standard superhero cack-handedly flung onto a cinema screen, who together with his attempted espionage story-lines leave us with a familiar sense of deja-vu. 

Following the events of The Avengers, Captain America (Chris Evans) is working for Shield, cracking cases, finding files and generally carrying out superhero duties, this is until The Winter Soldier turns up, a seemingly unstoppable Soviet Agent, who turns the life that Captain America knew upside down. The initial plot is perfect,a change from the formulaic structure of: crisis, injury, big battle, victory, which also fits in with the past of Captain America, carrying out field duties as per usual. This is shown from the very beginning which perfectly sums up what the film should've been. It was fast, exciting, intriguing but most of all it did something that neither the first Captain America nor the Avengers did, it established his character, demonstrating his physical power with quick, painful action scenes as well as his inner personality, showing his charisma and decisiveness as the plot began to unfold. 

The fantastic tone that this opening set was almost immediately abandoned  with both Captain America and his equally as boring female partner Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) returning to their bland roles as monotone vehicles for the story. In fact the supporting roles of both the consistently interesting Nick Fury (Sameul L. Jackson) as well as new hero Falcon (Anthony Mackie) easily outdo that of the two protagonists, with Falcons character being fairly well established given the lack of screen time he's allotted; resulting in his character being far more interesting than that of the leading man. The villians, alike the typical workings of the franchise, remain problematic, with Robert Redfords performance of a sinister politician initially showing massive potential, only to be let down by a story which soon runs out of steam. The Winter Soldier is oddly similar to Captain America being wildly bland and easily foreseeable, ultimately holding little value in the film as a whole...why his name is in the title we will never know .As mentioned the story shows to be equally as tired after clinging on to all the sincerity it had for as long as possible until it was replaced by mind-numbing action, the selling point of the film. The action however,despite the quality of story, upholds its quality from previous MARVEL instalments being fun, realistic and at some points oddly gritty, a nice change from the usually soft fight sequences of the character. 

On the whole however the film is a hugely frustrating watch. The first half or so is fantastic and for perhaps the first time in MARVEL movie history, the audience is put into a position where the outcome is totally unpredictable. Then the plot is completely inverted. Suddenly we're reminded that this is 'just another' MARVEL movie, in comes the grandiose final sequence, bringing the unbelieveably foreseeable end, quickly turning the film boring. The classy first half of slick action entwined with intelligent political espionage becomes infested with cheap cliches and horrible one-liners which are about as eloquent as a doner kebab. Attempts to inject the childish second half with any kind of intelligence go laughably wrong, thinking the more politicians they add the more brain cells the film will have, when in reality this simply makes the story so much more of a mess. One sequence especially which showed the Captain walking through a museum showcasing his old life, was notably awful, lasting for far too long, serving only the purpose to provide needless exposision, furthermore as if the audience were blind a voiceover mimics the on screen action, delving deep into the Captains past with such detail that no voice-over man, no matter how talented, would know.

This is a film of two halves. The first highlighting the very best of MARVEL with a sophisticated narrative,  blended with exciting action and the second highlighting the very worst, abandoning the narrative and taking the action to utilise until it was all out of juice. Captain America:The Winter Soldier is the first film to show cracks in the MARVEL universe playing it far too safe, fixing no previous faults of the ongoing franchise. The Guardians of the galaxy, and in fact the three upcoming films in the franchise, couldn't come sooner to add a bit of flavour to the now bland tasting MARVEL universe.

6/10- With initial potential to be MARVELS best, it soon fatigues and resorts to familiar cheap tricks.

Calum Russell