Tag Archives: ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’

Tim Lammers picks top movies of 2014

Agree or disagree, here’s this year’s Top 10 list — wedging in 14 of the best movies on the big screen in 2014. See you at the movies in 2015.

10. “The Box Trolls”/”The Lego Movie”“The Boxtrolls” proves why stop-motion is still the best of all forms of animation, and “The Lego Movie,” a computer-animated film that mimics the under-appreciated art form, proves why we need more.

9. “Unbroken”/”Fury” — Directors Angelina Jolie and David Ayer shine proper lights on the unsung heroes of World War II: POW survivor Louie Zamperini in “Unbroken,” and a Sherman tank crew forced to do horrific things in order to survive in “Fury.” What Jolie lacks in context of Zamperini’s sufferings in the PG-13 “Unbroken” is more than made up for in brutally realistic R-rated “Fury,” starring, oddly enough, Jolie’s husband Brad Pitt.

Bradley Cooper in 'American Sniper' (photo Warner Bros.)
Bradley Cooper in ‘American Sniper’ (photo Warner Bros.).

8. “The Imitation Game”/”Big Eyes” — The amazing tale of Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) is told on two levels: One about Turing the  genius mathematician who invents a pre-cursor to the computer to help the British break German’s Enigma code during World War II; and second Turing as gay man in a time where homosexuality was outlawed in the U.K. Since his covert efforts with Britain’s MI: 6 technically didn’t exist, not even saving millions of lives couldn’t prevent the persecution of one life – Turning’s own. “Big Eyes,” meanwhile, tells another true story about secrets – this one set in pop art scene of the 1950s and ’60s – through the unique cinematic brushstrokes of canvas and film artist Tim Burton.

7. “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”/”X-Men: Days of Future Past” — While the wonderfully funny and action-packed “Guardians of the Galaxy” marked a departure to the light side for Marvel Studios, the latest film in “The Avengers” superhero saga daringly ventured down the complete opposite path with a ’70s political thriller twist, to boot. Though technically not a Marvel Studios property, “Days of Future Past” and star Hugh Jackman did its Marvel Comics roots justice by righting some wrongs from previous films in the “X-Men” series.

6. “St. Vincent” — Bill Murray is at his best in the feel-good movie of the year as a ne’er do-well with a heart of gold and chamber of heartbreaking secrets. Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts, Chris O’Dowd and newcomer Jaeden Lieberher complete the joyous halo that encircles Murray in “St. Vincent,” a dramedy that’s every bit as poignant as it is funny.

5. “Gone Girl” – Director David Fincher is at the top of his game in Gillian Flynn’s complex crime thriller, expertly adapted by the screenwriter from her own best-selling novel. Featuring one of the best ensemble casts of the year (including Ben Affleck, Carrie Coon, Kim Dickens, Tyler Perry, Neil Patrick Harris, Missi Pyle and Sela Ward), “Gone Girl” is taken to a whole new level by former Bond girl Rosamund Pike in what’s easily the best female lead performance of the year.

4. “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” – Director Matt Reeves pulls off the impossible by topping “Dawn’s” predecessor, “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” – a brilliant reboot of a classic film series. The apes continue to evolve in “Dawn,” and so does the story and Andy Serkis’ motion capture acting. Awards voters better soon get with the program and accept what Serkis does as a legitimate form of acting.

3. “Birdman” – Michael Keaton gives a career performance as a struggling big-screen superhero trying to reinvent himself on Broadway in “Birdman,” the most inventively staged film of the year. The only reason this film works is because of Keaton, who will no doubt enjoy a career renaissance with an Oscar nomination (if not a win) in his future. Of course, it helps to have Edward Norton in your cast, who is as brilliant as ever in a crucial supporting role.

2. “Whiplash” – J.K. Simmons gives the one of the best performances of the year as a conniving, vitriolic jazz conservatory instructor who uses mental abuse in an effort to try to bring out the best in his students – specifically an immensely talented but emotionally fragile drummer (Miles Teller). Simmons is so explosive in “Whiplash” that he makes Louis Gossett Jr. in “An Officer and a Gentleman” feel like a pre-school teacher.

1. “American Sniper” – Director Clint Eastwood places you in the thick of the battle in the Iraq war while Bradley Cooper puts you in Chris Kyle’s conflicted mind in this brutally honest portrayal of the most lethal sniper in the American military. Sienna Miller is also heartbreaking at Kyle’s wife, Taya, a woman suffering the residual effects war has on families. To say the film is riveting is an huge understatement, especially given the tragic fate that awaits Kyle as he finally finds his peace and tries to help other veterans adjust to life on the home front.

Most over-rated movie of the year: “Boyhood” — It’s a clever idea no doubt, filming a child’s life over a 12-year period and there’s no deny the effort and planning director Richard Linklater put into the project, but ultimately, “Boyhood” feels like a gimmick because of a mostly uneventful story. Perhaps critics were ultimately more fascinated with the idea of making a movie over 12-year period than the film itself. Besides, haven’t we seen characters grow up on screen before with the films in the “Harry Potter” saga?

Worst movie of the year: “Inherent Vice” — The film’s top-shelf talent is completely wasted by Paul Thomas Anderson’s pretentious writing and direction, and a nonsensical script that’s virtually impossible to grasp. Don’t pay attention to the film snobs who pretend to understand what’s going on in this bloated heap of “I’m smarter than you are” filmmaking, because they really don’t. Dreadful and disappointing, this movie should have been called “Incoherent Vice.”

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Interview: Russo brothers talk direction of ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’

Never mind the thrilling and intense action scenes, the story’s well-rounded characters or the “Iron Man,” “Thor,” “Captain America” and “Avengers” films that came before it: When it came to making “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” the brother directing team of Anthony and Joe Russo said it was the cameo by Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee that had them fretting the most.

“Directing Stan was totally surreal, especially as comic book fans. It was mind-blowing,” Joe Russo, accompanied by Anthony Russo, told me in an interview Tuesday. “We grew up with him with comic books and cartoons, and suddenly, here we are in a room with him. It’s always impactful when you meet people who had an influence you as a child, and you couldn’t ask for a bigger influence here. Of all the things we pressured ourselves on because Marvel has raised the bar so high with the other films, the Stan Lee cameo was up there.”

Anthony and Joe Russo on the set of 'Captain America The Winter Soldier'
Anthony and Joe Russo on the set of “Captain America: The Winter Solider” (photo: Disney-Marvel).

New on Blu-ray and DVD (Walt Disney Home Entertainment), “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” finds the World War II-bred Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) after the events of “The Avengers,” still trying to adjust to the modern world. Trying to live a quiet life in Washington, D.C., Rogers suddenly finds himself on the wrong side of S.H.I.E.L.D. after the organization has been greatly compromised by unknown forces — and millions of lives, including his own, are at stake because of it.

With little time and few people he can trust, Captain America embarks on a perilous trek with Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Sam Wilson/The Falcon (Anthony Mackie) in an effort to ferret out the mystery, even if it means destroying the very organization that the Avengers were built upon. Worse yet he’s forced to face off against an old friend, who has been molded into the villain dubbed “The Winter Soldier.”

The interesting thing about the Russos’ experience in the business is that it’s mainly in the comedy genre, whether it be films like “You, Me and Dupree” or comedy series like “Community” and “Arrested Development.” And while the brothers adapted to the high-octane action genre quite well with “Captain America: The Winter Solider,” it’s clearly their sense of being storytellers first that landed them the highly-regarded Marvel gig.

“We were known for a very strong sense of story and character in our comedic work, mainly because it’s the sort of storytelling we most enjoy,” Anthony Russo said. “We like to laugh, but we also like something else going on at the same time that audiences can feel. So, we brought that same work ethic to making an action film. Every beat of the action has to be imbued with very strong storytelling and very strong character moments, otherwise the action gets boring.”

Gamora pre-order Sideshow 2
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Both in their early 40s, the Russos say they want to maintain childlike sensibilities making films like “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” because they vividly remember how similar, fantastical films impacted them as youths. Ultimately, the brothers want to do the same for today’s kids.

“As a kid, when I went to ‘The Empire Strikes Back,’ I got to the theater at 11 in the morning and left at 11 at night after seeing the film six times in a row in the front row,” Joe Russo recalled. “Whether it’s in a theater or in a living room, we want to pass that experience on to other kids. We want to have a cultural impact, otherwise why do it? It takes two years of your life to make a movie like this, we wanted to reach people in a way that they could have an emotional experience and that they remember it for a long time.”

The Russos, of course, will have a chance to create more lasting memories for moviegoers for the yet-untitled sequel “Captain America 3,” which is due out in May 2016. And while rumors are running rampant over which “Avengers” members will assemble for the film, the Russos hint at least that there will be more of the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), who in his earlier life before the evil forces of Hydra got hold of him, was Rogers’ best friend, Bucky Barnes.

“As storytellers, we always felt that the relationship between Steve and Bucky was not resolved by the end of ‘The Winter Soldier.’ We love that relationship. It’s so complicated and tragic,” Anthony Russo explained. “The relationship is so important to who Cap is, especially since he’s feeling so isolated in the modern world. It’s his connection to the past. The relationship with Bucky now isn’t exactly reliable and trustworthy, but it’s something that Cap has faith in nonetheless. That’s definitely something we want to continue dealing with in the next film, because their relationship remains critical, important and rich.”

While he couldn’t name anyone specifically, Anthony Russo added, “There are other characters very specific to the world of Cap that will also have a big role in the coming film.”

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Review: Tim Lammers talks ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ on KARE-TV

Chris Evans Sebastian Stan in 'Captain America The Winter Soldier'

Tim reviews Marvel’s latest superhero installment “Captain America: The Winter Solider” on KARE 11 TV (NBC) in Minneapolis.  See the review of the film, starring Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Anthony Mackie, Samuel L. Jackson and Robert Redford, below.

Captain America Star Spangled Man Version - Sixth Scale Figure