Tag Archives: Joe Russo

Captain Crunch

The Marvel gang’s all here in superhero-packed mega-movie

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Captain America: Civil War

Starring Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Sebastian Stan & Scarlett Johansson

Directed by Anthony Russo & Joe Russo

PG-13

What do superheroes do when they’re not saving the planet? A lot of the same things everyone else does—they prattle around the house, do their best to get along and sometimes get on each other’s nerves.

“Who’s putting coffee grounds in the disposal?” Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) asks his houseguests, which include Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), War Machine (Don Cheadle) and Vision (Paul Bettany). “Am I running a bed and breakfast for a biker gang?”

Crammed into a back of a tiny VW Beetle, the hulking Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) has a request of Falcon (Anthony Mackie). “Could you move your seat up?” Like a grumpy sibling on a family road trip that’s already over-stretched his patience, Falcon isn’t exactly in an agreeable mood. “No!” he snaps.

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Spider-Man (Tom Holland) gets in on the action.

Captain America: Civil War is a big, sprawling superhero mega-movie, with more spandex to the gallon than any flick that’s come down the pike in a long time. The latest in the multi-billion-dollar Marvel cinematic canon, it’s officially the third of the Captain America franchise, but it’s also a continuation of the Avengers movie arc, and it ropes in characters from other Marvel movie properties as well, including Iron Man, Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) and even the new Spider-Man (Tom Holland), whose movie won’t be in theaters until next summer.

The “Civil War” in the title refers to the major rift that occurs within the Avengers when a United Nations panel wants to rein them in. The global community is concerned about the civilian deaths and wakes of destruction that accompany the superheroes’ bad-guy smackdowns—a theme that also cropped up a few weeks ago in another comics-character slugfest, Batman v Superman.

The Avengers divide into two camps about the issue—those who feel that some international oversight and cooperation is the way to go (led by Iron Man), and the rebels who refuse to sign the accord (team Captain America). That sets the stage for several spats, a couple of subplots, more than two hours of squabbles and one stupendous battle royale in an abandoned airport.

Marvel's Captain America: Civil War..L to R: Sharon Carter/Agent 13 (Emily VanCamp), Sam Wilson/Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans)..Photo Credit: Zade Rosenthal..? Marvel 2016

Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp), Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Captain America (Chris Evans) have a serious huddle.

Directors Anthony and Joe Russo keep things moving along with style, substance and significant flair, and they give all their characters time to shine—no easy task when they are so many, including newcomers Chadwick Boseman as an African prince who becomes the Black Panther; Marissa Tomei as Peter Parker’s Aunt May; and Daniel Brühl as the Eastern European über-villain Zemo. There’s also Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, Martin Freeman as a CIA official, Emily Van Camp (from TV’s Revenge) as Sharon Carter, and William Hurt as the U.S. Secretary of State. Oscar-nominated Alfre Woodard pops in as an aggrieved mom.

But through it all are the Avengers, the world’s coolest, most powerful cadre of superfriends—family, actually—being ripped apart, fractured from within, pulverizing each other as the divide between them, widened by treachery, becomes filled with distrust, dark secrets and deep wounds from the past.

There’s a whole army of frozen Winter Soldiers, a funeral and a sweet kiss between two characters that may point to future romance.

How does this wham-bam, jam-packed road trip on the superhero highway end? I won’t spoil it. But you shouldn’t be surprised to know that even when it does, it doesn’t, and that the Marvel movie map is still being drawn for Captain America, Iron Man, Spider-Man and other characters for years to come!

—Neil Pond, Parade Magazine

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Time Jumper

Marvel’s red, white & blue WWII hero confronts contemporary enemies

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Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Starring Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Robert Redford and Samuel L. Jackson

Directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo

PG-13, 135 min.

 

Thawed out from his Rip Van Winkle-like cryogenic hibernation, experimentally enhanced WWII U.S. Army super-soldier Capt. Steve Rogers—a.k.a. Captain America (Chris Evans)—now adjusts to the modern world. His Nazi-hunting days are behind him, but he’s still serving his country on missions for S.H.I.E.L.D, the global protection conglomerate, with his sexy crime-fighting partner the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), a former Soviet agent.

But maybe Cap’s not so free of his past, after all. A legendary, near-indestructible assassin rumored to be almost 100 years old, with a Hannibal Lector-like muzzle on his mouth and a gleaming robotic arm, is out to get him. And he smells a rat inside his own organization; could the high-ranking S.H.I.E.L.D. operative Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford), now running the World Security Council, have anything to do with it? Paranoia is everywhere. “Don’t trust anybody,” his wounded leader, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), warns him.

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Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury.

A brawny blockbuster-formula movie with the brains of an espionage thriller, Captain America: The Winter Soldier recalls vintage ’70s spy romps but resonates with contemporary issues about military might, black-ops government conspiracies, historical cover-ups, war, peace and privacy in this digital era.

Sibling directors Anthony and Joe Russo stage the action with gusto and a real sense of the changing scale and proportion needed for fight sequences that take place in a variety of settings, ranging from the claustrophobic confines of a crowded elevator to the expanses of a colossal cargo ship, and eventually taking flight into the sky itself.

Savvy fans who keep up with the Marvel Comics universe will enjoy watching for the obligatory cameo from founder Stan Lee, and staying for the after-credits surprises—both of them—about where the ever-expanding franchise will go next.

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“How do we know the good guys from the bad guys?” the Cap’s new ally, Sam Wilson/The Falcon (Anthony Mackie), asks in the middle of one particularly rousing, action-y moment. It’s a good question, then and now. Who can you trust?

At least in this movie, you can always trust the guy with the shield and the star—the guy who says, “The price of freedom is high, it always has been.” He’s been one of the good guys for a long time.

—Neil Pond, American Profile Magazine

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