Thursday, March 27, 2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier Video Review

Our host and producer, Leigh Knights has already seen the latest "Cap" film, and he's here to tell you all about it. Please check out this exclusive review from across the pond, enjoy!

Episode 45: The Muppets Most Wanted

Our latest episode is now available, feel free to check it out below.  This week, we devote our attention to the latest Muppet movie now in theaters, The Muppets Most Wanted.  We hope you enjoy!


A spoiler-free review by Leigh Knights

The original Captain America: The First Avenger by Joe Johnston was a film that I eagerly anticipated, but after viewing, left me feeling disappointed in the fact that I didn't find Steve Rogers a cool protagonist who could stand among the giants of Iron Man, Thor and The Hulk for the then upcoming, Avengers.
I didn't hate the movie at all, just found it to be merely ordinary. I liked Steve Rogers throwing himself on the grenade, his costume was decent, the chase scene involving the Hydra agent was excellent and Hayley Atwell's, Peggy Carter, and Tommy Lee Jones, Colonel Chester Phillips were the standout performances in an otherwise average film, in my opinion.

In Joss Whedons Avengers: Assemble, Chris Evans gave us a great performance of a man out of time and a leader in the making of this extraordinary collective of heroes, yet was still outshone by Mark Ruffalo's Hulk, Robert Downey Jr's Iron Man and Tom Hiddlestones Loki.

The character of Captain America seems a little too patriotic and flag waving for us British folk, who even find his moniker slightly tasteless. His appearance as a tool of propaganda rubs a lot of my fellow countrymen up the wrong way. He just doesn't appeal to us like he does to our American cousins. However, upon seeing the trailer for Anthony and Joe Russo's Captain America: The Winter Soldier, I felt I was presented with a cool, spy espionage film that I could readily get on board with. My anticipation level was cautiously high.

After finally watching the finished movie, I'm pleased to report that my excitement was not misplaced. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a vast improvement on the original and definitely one of the finest offerings from Marvel to date. 

Though the political undertones of the title character still remain, the main emphasis of the story is how national security can be sabotaged by the wrong people with the cost of freedom that we all take for granted and with the utilisation of fear used to control the populace, it's pretty meaty stuff which in of itself is pretty different for a superhero film.

So let me regail to you all, what I loved about the movie. Chris Evans gives his best performance to date as Captain America. He is now a lot more settled in this modern world and is now one badass fighter. His fight scenes are brilliant and the way he utilises his shield is so cool that I now wish to own my own to bounce off walls and such. The chemistry with Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow excels and once again, she shines. I could easily watch her in her own film, that would be awesome.

Anthony Mackie's Falcon is a great addition to the cast and he has a standout action set piece on a S.H.I.E.L.D helipad station that's superb. He also compliments Chris Evans performance and their chemistry shines also in a friendship that is believable and hopefully long lasting.

Robert Redford's Alexander Pierce adds a touch of class that only Robert Redford could bring and we see more of Samuel L Jackon's Nick Fury than ever before. He plays a significant role this films proceedings.

As awesome as Captain America and Falcon are though they pale in comparison to Sebastian Stan's, Winter Soldier as the top badass of the movie. He is a great villain who is physically Steve Rogers equal, who is tinged with an undercurrent of sympathy and who's fight scenes, especially with a knife in hand, are truly memorable. Also, his metal cool. We finally have a Marvel villain who could rival the impact of Loki, he's that damn good.

On the flip side of this positivity, this film is by no means perfect and has several notable flaws. The score feels very somber and subdued. Henry Jackman, the composer is normally top quality, but that's not the case for this particular film. 

There are also numerous attempts at humour that completely fell flat in my screenings audience, though having said that, the opening scene of Steve Rogers running rings around another jogger does hit the mark.

There's lots of hidden gems for the Marvel fans to recognise and speculate but I won't spoil those here, however this film won't change the mind of comic book movie haters, like my friends who I attended the showing with, they were left rather cold by what they saw, both admitted this sequel was an improved effort compared to the original movie.

Captain America is still going to be a hard sell to a large section of British cinema goers as evidenced by my friends claim that they thought the film was a patriotic blow-up snorefest with an implicit criticism of U.S military. They also mentioned their dislike of the rapid dominance doctrine and the shock and awe tactics that are relevant to this movie. Whilst there are elements of my friends criticism that ring true, I still thoroughly enjoyed the film and will be fascinated to see and hear feedback from Americans who watch this, to see if they pick up on any of our political criticisms.

There are a lot of huge developments for the Marvel cinematic universe that have been really hard not to write about but I don't want to spoil the surprises for those of you yet to see it. Suffice to say that once the excellent Frank Miller inspired end title sequence finishes, we are treated to a very special Easter egg scene that is completely mouth watering. Hopefully you will enjoy as much as I did. It's the best end title scene yet in my opinion and far superior to the after credits scene at the very end, which seemed utterly redundant and is probably Marvel's worst after credit scene.

In finishing, I loved this film and am now on board with the character of Steve Rogers. I can't wait to see what happens next for him. The movie as a whole is a great action spy thriller that will have some surprising after effects going forward for the Marvel cinematic universe.Thoroughly recommended.

Look out for a potential podcast show, where all the FilmFoolery gang will dissect and discuss this epic film in the near future.

And remember "You need to keep BOTH eyes open!". Wink, wink. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

20 years of The Lion King

Austin Bouse

    The first cinematic memory that I have took place on the night of June 15, 1994. I had just turned three years old a little over a month ago, and already my dad and I were making a routine of going to the movies on regular and ongoing basis. The building that used to be the local Cinemark in Orlando, Florida is now a church. But, if you’re my age or older, you could walk in to that place and still see it. Still see the black and white tiles the decorated the lobby. Still see the wall of posters to the left-hand side that flanked the concession stand like a shrine in a temple. I remember opening that purple door into an auditorium and sitting down. The lights dimmed, the previews showed, and the film started. Blackness. Sounds of the savannah echoed through the speakers. Then light and sound. A great yellow sun rising on a red sky while an African chant wailed on in the theatre. For the next five minutes or so I was pinned to my seat. The deep colors of Africa mixed with the intricately detailed animals filled my eyes. The song, no, thehymn called Circle Of Life rang through my ears and into my skull like some spirit had entered the building and whispered its secrets of the universe to me. Finally, the opening scene ended with a gorgeous painting-like shot of the birth of Simba on Pride Rock. Then WHAM. Across the screen in red letters was the title: The Lion King. I imagine now that experiencing that scene (and subsequently the film) was very similar to how audiences responded to the opening of  Star Wars or 2001: A Space Odyssey. Something Epic. Something spiritual. Some life changing. Something amazing. But probably the most amazing thing about The Lion King is that it had so much against it.

    The decade from 1989-1999 is known as the Disney Renaissance. A decade where the Disney Animation Studios seemingly churned out  masterpiece after masterpiece. A time where they were known as the best animators and the best storytellers in the world. Up until 1994, they had released three of those said masterpieces. 
The Little Mermaid, Beauty And The Beast, and Aladdin.Their next big picture was going to be a retelling of the historical legend ofPocahontas. They also had another picture in the works. A “B” picture, if you will. The basic premise at that time was that it was “Bambi In Africa.” A film like a National Geographic documentary on lions but using animation. Essentially,all the other animators who were not working onPocahontas were, reluctantly, sent to work on the then titled King Of The Jungle.

Animation might be the most collaborative art form out there. Scripts are not written fully formed per-se, but in conjunction with the animation. Like free form jazz, they start out with a basic plot and add and subtract from there. From animated nature documentary, it slowly morphed into something different. Something bigger.

    The Disney company is best known for their re-tellings of fairy and folk tails. That’s what they do better than anyone else. They’ve been doing it since 1939( and technically even 
earlier than that) and they’re still doing it till this day. ButThe Lion King wasn’t based off of anything. It had no source material. It had nothing for the audience to be familiar with. How could they let people care for a lion cub who was framed for his father’s murder? The answer lied in some of the oldest stories known to man.

It’s no surprise that The Lion King has echos of Hamlet in itA Prince who’s father has been murdered by his own uncle must come back to his homeland and avenge his family. Scar is Claudius. Timon And Pumba are Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Zazu is Polonius. Mufasa’s ghost is the ghost of King Hamlet. Many people have written about the similarities, so I won’t do it too much here. But I also think it has echos of Biblical and Arthurial myths in it as well. Like Joseph, Simba is driven out of his kingdom and returns later to take his rightful place as king. Like Moses seeing the burning bush, Simba sees his father’s spirit in the sky and is told of his destiny. And like King Arthur, with the Good King comes the spring and the bounty and with the Bad King comes the storms and drought.

    The voice work in it is some of the best Disney has ever produced. James Earl Jones‘ Mufasa is one of the best dads in cinema history. Strong, intimidating, joyful, kind. He feels like everyone’s father, or at least, how everyone remembers their father. Which makes his death feel like our loss.

    Jeremy Irons‘ Scar is also something to behold. Drawn by animator Andreas Deja (who also animated Gaston for 
Beauty And The Beast and Jafar for Aladdin) his features are sharp like a knifes. But Irons‘ gravely voice is the thing that brings the character to life. Filled with arrogance, rage, and a lust for power; his rendition of Be Prepared is one that would make Hitler quiver with fear. If Earl Jones is the voice of God, then surely Irons is the voice of Satan. Hearing him quietly say “long live the king” before he throws his brother off the cliff still gives me chills. Making Scar the best Disney Villain since Sleeping Beaty’s Maleficent.

    Timon and Pumba are one of the great Disney comedic reliefs along with Lumiere and Cogsworth, Sebastian, Olaf, and the Seven Dwarves. With Nathan Lane’s nasally New York accent and Quinton Flynn’s low sweet voice, you can’t help but love them no matter how disgusting they are. They’re fun, loyal, and a little off. They’re the perfect room mates and I dare you to not get 
Hakuna Matata stuck in your head after you read this sentence.

    Matthew Broaderick has had an interesting career to say the least. From the coolest teenager ever with Ferris Bueller to. . . 
Inspector Gadget. His range is quite colorful. But I think his work as Simba is one of his best. He has a youthful voice that contains so much brightness that can also mask his guilt and loneliness. He’s so good in it that I forgot it was him.

    But I think the real star of 
The Lion King is the music. We’ve all heard Hans Zimmer’s procession heavy scores to good, and sometimes not so good, effect. And I think this, along with his work for the Nolan Batman films, is his greatest achievement. Accompanied with African singer Lebo M, I feel as if I have been to the great planes of Africa every time I watch the film. The drums, the flutes, the choirs, the score goes from just great music to something that touches your soul. Not to mention the songs by Elton John and Tim Rice. All of them have become classics, but I Just Can’t Wait To Be King is a not only a great toe-tapper, but it also brilliantly showcases (along with the bright African textile colors of that sequence) young Simba’s naiveté about adulthood. Can You Feel The Love Tonight is a seminal love song if there ever was one. And of course, Circle Of Life is a masterclass in how to convey theme in song.

    With albums, cartoons, and even a fantastic Broadway musical, 
The Lion Kinghas become one of Disney’s best. A story that transcends a movie about talking animals. A story about life, death, love, redemption, responsibility, and legacy. A story about the human experience and what it means to live.         




To quote the classic Drifters song "Saturday night at the movies, who cares what picture we see?" Well I do for one.
Going to The Cinema is always a prestigious event for me to partake in, there's no better feeling than finally going to watch a much anticipated film at The Pictures in the best possible format with your friends and family.
However, is this gratifying ritual we participate in, in any danger of perishing? I pose this query because it's my opinion that we are currently in an extreme period of transition, in terms of our Cinema going.
As it stands now, it's my belief that TV is The Daddy of all media content. 
With shows like Breaking Bad, Game Of Thrones, The Walking Dead and True Detective to name a few, we currently reside in an area that I consider to be "The Golden Age Of Television".
The strong upsurge in TV quality and the long form storytelling is a powerful mix of addictive qualities that "could" threaten The Cinema experience.
Another important consideration to is the growing element of digital media and this is one area that I have a strong interest in.
When we go to The Movies, we go at the behest of our local Cinemas timetable. We have to attend at their desiginated times and have to pay top dollar to watch our beloved Flicks. Add in travel, snack and 3D glasses costs and the fact that if you need the toilet, you're going to miss some of the film ( unforgivable crime, in my eyes ) The Cinema is a machine that waits for no one.
This is a non existent problem when it comes to home digital media such as Netflix, Love-Film and Amazon Prime though. With the advent of smart phones and tablets, we can watch what we want, when we want and where we want. Cinephiles would scoff at watching their beloved art forms on such small screens but that hasn't stopped several friends of mine from watching the latest Breaking Bad on Netflix recently whilst on their lunch breaks at work.
We are also living in an age where cinematic offerings are made available to buy digitally on the same day as it's theatrical release date. Recently I personally chose to download Ben Wheatleys, A Field In England, on my Apple TV instead of going to The Cinema to see it and I loved that I could watch it in the comfort of my own home, eat what I wanted, pause the film to go to the toilet and generally, really enjoyed the experience.
I realise that I may be contributing to a society that in the future will reside in floating seats, eating, drinking and watching lazily in a slob like state, just like the last act of Pixar's, Wall-E, but I think we're quite far off that event. Yet, these seeds are being sewn now in my view.
I love the ease of digital media and in Netflix, I can watch a library of films and great TV on my own schedule and that is an important factor of the future of Cinema.
If I feel this way, surely others do too? If everyone followed suit what would happen to The Movies? High price admissions maybe? Smaller budgeted films? Or, god forbid, less films being made? I don't have the answers to these questions but time will tell all.
Despite loving convenient home watching, I realise the long term effects this could have on Movies and that's why I personally saw more films at The Cinema last year and will try to continue to do so this year too. 
If anything, I make it a must, to see the films I want to see at The Cinema on opening day so that I can avoid spoilers being presented on my beloved Twitter. This is also another important factor in the threat of Cinema going, there's nothing worse than having something being spoiled before you've even seen it by some inconsiderate twerp on social media, because everyone's a critic these days and we all have the ability to reach the many on Facebook and Twitter.
Whilst there's alot that could affect our future Cinema experience, I will continue to attend and encourage you all to go to your local Cinema still.
We don't know what the future holds but we can revel in the now and appreciate The Cinema for giving us the latest releases on the biggest and best screens possible.
I will go to my local Majestic Cinema Theatre this coming Wednesday to watch the highly anticipated, Captain America: Winter Soldier and I can't wait to attend. Check out my review, coming soon to the FilmFoolery website and in finishing, long live The Cinema. Here, here!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Episode 44: Most Anticipated Films of 2014

In this episode we discuss the films of 2014 that we are looking forward to the most. In addition, we also discuss the films we've seen thus far. Enjoy and Happy Listening!

Episode 43: FilmFoolery Version 2.0

We're back after a long hiatus, new and (hopefully) improved.  In this episode we discuss the Oscars of 2013 and also reflect on the other films that we missed out on during last year. Please check out the player down below. We hope you enjoy, and happy listening!