Review: Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Captain_America_The_Winter_Solider-PosterWe’re talking about a hero with superhuman powers and a weapon with the ability to pinpoint villains via satellites capable of reading DNA and identifying a propensity to attack. It’s a downright outrageous scenario, but, dare I say, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” still feels like one of the most grounded Marvel movies out there.

After the destruction in New York in “The Avengers,” Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is attempting to lay low to a degree in Washington, D.C., by continuing to try to acclimate himself to the modern world while lending a hand at S.H.I.E.L.D. when necessary. However, when Steve comes to learn of an initiative to wipe out terrorists via enormous helicarriers that can detect evildoers before they even strike, his faith in the organization waivers. When Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) himself has cause to believe that something isn’t quite right at S.H.I.E.L.D., it falls on Captain America to figure out who to trust so that the technology doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

First and foremost, Evans is just an absolute natural as Steve Rogers/Captain America. There is a cringe worthy throwback to skinny Steve, but otherwise, Evans sells him as an exceptionally capable, believable and thoughtful hero with an honest heart. Whether you’ve seen “Captain America: The First Avenger” or not, in “The Winter Solider,” Captain America experiences an arc that rocks the power to resonate regardless of how many times you’ve seen him in action.

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Interview: Cheap Thrills’ Pat Healy

Cheap_Thrills_Poster_Pat_HealyYou know Pat Healy, right? Well, if you don’t, that means you probably haven’t seen “The Great World of Sound,” “The Innkeepers,” or “Compliance,” and that also means you have quite a bit of movie watching to do. But before you get to any of that, Healy’s latest feature is an absolute must. In fact, “Cheap Thrills” is easily the best film I caught on the film festival circuit in 2013.

Healy leads as Craig, a loving husband and father who gets slapped with an eviction notice and loses his job all in the same day. In an effort to ease the pain, Craig hits the bar and that’s where he happens to bump into an old high school friend, Vince (Ethan Embry). A few drinks in, they’re joined by another couple Colin and Violet (David Koechner and Sara Paxton). Colin doesn’t just enjoy sharing a little of his wealth by buying Craig and Vince drinks; he wants to share a significant amount of it in exchange for dares. At first, it’s simple things like being the first to take a shot and antagonizing a bouncer, but the higher the payout, the more intense the dare, and with his home and family on the line, Craig proves to be quite the contender.

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The Best – and Worst – Movie Trailers of the Week

The_Purge_AnarchyThe first official teaser trailer for Into the Storm is essentially disaster-movie porn, but it’s been quite some time since we’ve seen an outrageous big-screen natural disaster, so all destruction and no story is really the most marketable way to go. However, marketability is only one component of a good trailer and this week’s Best Stuff selections have many more.

The Best Stuff

1. The Purge: Anarchy

The teaser for The Purge: Anarchy was a little underwhelming, but apparently for good reason. It turns out that first promo was only a baby step back into the 12-hour free-for-all. The first full trailer, on the other hand, goes all in and it’s all the more satisfying because the original teaser paved the way. By introducing us to just two main characters in promo number one and then letting different leads take the spotlight at the start of the second, there’s the added appeal of seeing how their situations differ and also the thrill of seeing them all come together.

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Review: Noah

Noah PosterWhen you’ve got Darren Aronofsky bringing a Biblical tale to screen, expectations are through the roof. “Noah” may not meet those expectations, but the film does nestle in just a few notches below. It isn’t a mind-blowing epic, but it’s certainly a riveting and worthy retelling of this story.

The film kicks off with a partial recap of creation, specifically what went down with Adam and Eve, and what became of their children, Cain, Abel and Seth. From there we cut to one of Seth’s descendant’s, Noah (Dakota Goyo), who’s just a boy at the time, but watches his father murdered right before his eyes. Years later, Noah (Russell Crowe) has a wife, Naameh (Jennifer Connelly), and three boys of his own, Shem, Ham and Japheth. After having a vision of man’s demise, Noah sets out to save the innocent – the animals – with the help of his family and The Watchers while Tubal-cain (Ray Winstone) and his followers threaten to claim their work, the ark.

As someone with limited knowledge of scripture, Aronofsky had a significant amount of breathing room with this and he didn’t let an inch of it go to waste. Whereas early memories of Noah’s ark involve a lecture or pages in a book, Aronofsky’s take is cinematic through and through. The performances are bold and engaging, most visuals are downright stunning, and they’re both featured within the context of an enthralling narrative. However, even though Aronofsky does deliver a worthy big screen Bible story, by going big in certain respects, he is forced to tiptoe around a number of potential pitfalls.

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7 Things We Want to See in the ‘Divergent’ Sequel ‘Insurgent’

InsurgentEven though Summit Entertainment gave both Insurgent and Allegiant release dates months ago, the first sequel didn’t get its green light until Divergent managed to lock in $4.9 million in Thursday late-night screenings. Now, with $56 million in the bank, Insurgent is heading towards a May start date, and there are quite a few things the filmmakers should consider that could make the second adaptation a hit.

Warning! There are Divergent spoilers below.

Uriah

Uriah is a Dauntless-born initiate that makes an impression on Tris a handful of times throughout Divergent. Even though Uriah’s name did make it onto the Dauntless initiate ranking board and someone who fit his character description did pop up during the zip-line scene, essentially, he wasn’t in the movie. It’s disappointing because he is a fan favorite, but the first film adaptation was likely better off without him considering he spends most of his time with the Dauntless-born initiates and doesn’t have a significant impact on the flow of the narrative.

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‘Divergent’ 101: Meet the Characters

Kate_WinsletSo you still don’t know much about the YA adaptation coming to theaters March 21, Divergent, starring Shailene Woodley? With so many people, groups and ideologies to keep track of, it’s no wonder you might be confused what it’s about.  See where everyone stands at a glance with our guide.

Jeanine Matthews

Jeanine is the leader of Erudite and Divergent’s main antagonist. She’s the one busy trying to demolish Abnegation’s reputation so that her own faction can assume control of the government. As a stickler for the rules and the “faction before blood” way of life, Jeanine has no tolerance for the Divergent.

Who is she? Academy Award winner Kate Winslet.

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20 Things You Need To Know About ‘Divergent’

Divergent_FactionsIt’s finally here! Divergent is due in theaters on Friday, March 21 and while the movie certainly stands on its own, there are a few elements of this world worth learning or revisiting. Here is everything you need to know to experience Divergent to the fullest.

The State of the World

Well into the future, long after an unnamed disaster, Chicago is in ruins. The large majority of the city is crumbling save for certain buildings in the downtown region. The tallest of them all, The Hub, was formerly the Sears (or Willis) Tower.

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