Review: Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

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“Whatever happens tomorrow you must promise me one thing. That you will stay who you are. Not a perfect soldier, but a good man.”
– Abraham Erskine

In the present day, a frozen circular object is discovered, and the scientists find a circular red, white and blue object in the abandoned craft and call it in. Going back to March 1942, Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving), Hitler’s advanced head of weaponry, has finally discovered what he has been looking for for a very long time: the mysterious Tesseract. It is said to possess exceptional powers, and he is sure that this is the case. He leaves a slaughter in his wake. In New York City Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is rejected yet again for military recruitment. Health is not on his side, nor is physical favour. His best friend, Sergeant James “Bucky” Barnes (Sebastian Stan), wishes that Steve would just accept that he cannot get in, though he, Bucky, has been accepted and ships out the next day. Overhearing the conversation between the two friends and why Steve wants to enlist, Dr Abraham Erskine (Staley Tucci) gives Steve the opportunity, who grabs at it enthusiastically.

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“I don’t want to kill anyone. I don’t like bullies; I don’t care where they’re from.” – Steve Rogers

Steve has been recruited in the Scientific Strategic Reserve to fall under an experiment to create super soldiers. He begins training and is met with an unyielding barrier of negativity. Nobody thinks he has it in him. Colonel Chester Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones) is exceptionally peeved when Erskine insists that Steve is his choice for the experiment due to his good nature, something that British agent Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) is impressed about. Erskine admits to Steve that Schmidt forced the doctor to initiate the procedure on Schmidt, and that it worked but that there were some serious issues and side effects. In Europe, Schmidt and his right hand, Dr Arnim Zola (Toby Jones) harness the Tesseract’s energy successfully, and soon they will be able to change the world, not necessarily in a good way. Schmidt knows that Erskine is in the States, and an assassin is sent to kill him. Steve enters the experiment nervously and emerges a new man: the perfect solider. His physique is totally changed, and it seems the medical conditions that have plagued him are gone. However, directly after his transformation, Erskine is gunned down by a Nazi spy by the name of Heinz Kruger (Richard Armitage). After chasing the man down, the Nazi bites his cyanide pill and talks of HYDRA before his death.

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“He will be the first in a new breed of super-soldier.” – Colonel Chester Phillips

Instead of sending Steve overseas, Colonel Phillips tells Steve that he will go to a laboratory to be researched on so that they can recreate the serum to make more super soldiers. US Senator Brandt (Michael Brand) approaches Steve and gives him another opportunity to serve the country. Steve ends up touring the States dressed as Captain America and promoting war bonds. Eventually he is sent overseas to see the troops out there, and he is met with hostility instead of the reverence he is used to. Peggy Carter appears and bolsters his ego, though he is horrified to learn the men he just attempted to perform for are what remain of Bucky’s unit… and Bucky isn’t there. Steve immediately decides that id Phillips won’t send anyone in, he will go in by himself. Assisted by Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper) and Peggy Carter, Steve saves the men and gets his best friend out alive. Returning to the camp, Phillips has to admit that Steve is dedicated, and so Captain America becomes a thing. Schmidt, however, escaped to compound, and is called Red Skull because of how Erskine’s botched procedure left his physical features. Steve falls in love with Peggy, and the two of them play their little games with each other, though the montage of becoming Captain America has suddenly made all the women notice Steve, putting some strain on their relationship.

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“You could have the power of the gods! Yet you wear a flag on your chest and think you fight a battle of nations! I have seen the future, Captain! There are no flags!” – Red Skull

After his heroic mission, the men look up to Steve, who recruits his own group to assist him in taking down Schmidt and his HYDRA organisation. The team consists of Bucky, Timothy “Dum Dum” Dugan (Neal McDonough), Gabe Jones (Derek Luke), Jim Morita (Kenneth Choi),Jacques Dernier (Bruno Ricci) and James Montgomery Falsworth (JJ Feild ). Steve also goes to see Stark about sorting out a better outfit, and here he discovers his shield, a beautiful shield made out of vibranium, a highly rare and indestructible metal. How will Bucky deal with Steve being the strong and popular one now? What will happen between Steve and Peggy? Will she be able to resist his charm? Will the group be able to cripple the HYDRA organisation and bring Schmidt to his knees?

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“This isn’t a back alley, Steve, this is war!” – James “Bucky” Barnes

An 8/10 for Captain America: The First Avenger. I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed this film. When it came everyone was like uhming and ahing and I was like what the hell, let’s see, and then I had a total blast. They completely reinvented Captain America. He was not boring, he was cool and he was someone to root for. Luke made a fantastic observation when he reviewed this saying it was a good set period piece, and I cannot disagree, it was good! The costume design was fantastic and so was Chris Evans, especially when he donned the pretty strange outfit… it ultimately just came together and worked well. As much as when this first came around I could only think the Human Torch, Evans was perfectly cast. I loved the music and the cinematography… this film was just fun. It looked great, the colouring of it, and I enjoyed the pace of it and the story line. The cast worked well together. Yes, there were some questionable CGI effects at times, but nothing that is a deal breaker. This movie came together well in so many ways. It impressed me. Of the pre-Avengers movies, I must say that Marvel nailed this one as well as the initial two Iron Man movies (no, I am still not a fan of the third). Captain America: The First Avenger was one of the best introductory films I have ever seen for a superhero and definitely my favourite, and I loved how they focused on the war, being a hero and not someone’s pet and all that. I would highly recommend that you check this out if you have not done so already, it just worked on so many levels.

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Top Ten Film Moments That Haunt Me: Silver Screen Serenade

So Cara from Silver Screen Serenade went with something slightly different for her top ten list today. Cara has an awesome blog that features a whole lot of stuff and a really cool review layout, and hosted the Resolutions 2014 blogathon earlier this year which was a cool thing to get involved in and get up, be productive and watch those movies you have been putting off for such a long time! Also, she is the winner of Shitfest: Winter (2014)! Definitely worth looking into and a lot of fun, I now move over to give you Cara’s top ten!

Should you be interested in submitting a Top Ten list, draw up a list of either your top ten personal favourite movies or a top ten list by a specific genre/theme and send it along to me at sporadiczoe@hotmail.com. Hope to see a few more lists!

silver screen serenade

Top 10 Film Moments That Haunt Me

I don’t know about you guys, but I love scary movies. For me, the thrill of a well-done horror is one of the best thrills you can get. Great horrors get your heart racing, your blood pumping, and your brain churning—all things that can keep you wide-eyed and terrified when you go to bed, but it’s a risk that you have to run. The following ten film moments may not be the scariest moments to everyone, but they’re the ones that send a chill down my spine just thinking about them.

10: The Doll Family (Insidious)

Insidious may not be the scariest movie out there, but you’ve got to admit that it has some fairly freaky moments. This is arguably the freakiest of them. Concerned father Josh has entered the ghostly realm of The Further to search for his lost son, and he comes across a family with strange, doll-like faces. Their eerie history plays out in front of him, and then they all pop up to say hello to Josh with unnatural smiles. Eeeeeek!

 9: In the Corner (The Blair Witch Project)

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It certainly takes a lot of time before we get to anything truly scary in The Blair Witch Project, but this tense, creepy scene makes for quite a finale. Heather and Mike go inside a spooky house in search of their lost friend. However, the two are eventually separated, and Heather later comes to the basement to find Mike standing in a corner—where the Blair Witch liked to send her victims before she killed them. The camera cuts out shortly after that, but it’s easy to guess what happens. The idea of it leaves you a little chilled…

 8: Lawn Work (Sinister)

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Aside from the very top moment, this is the creepiest film moment I’ve ever experienced in a movie theater (the other films I watched in the safety of my own home). True-crime writer Ellison finds a box of 8mm home movies in his new house, and, to his horror, each one shows grisly family murders.  The film labeled “Lawn Work” is the worst of these, showing a lawnmower moving in the dark and eventually coming to a tied-up body…It doesn’t show anything, but you can guess what happens. The moment sneaks up, leaving both the viewers and Ellison thoroughly shaken and a little sick.

 7: The Twins (The Shining)

Ah, the twins. What on Earth would we do without them? Arguably the scariest twins in the history of scary twins (a long history, I’m sure), these gals scare the bejesus out of poor Danny Torrance, who only wants to ride his trike. Danny rounds the corner to find these ghostly young ladies standing down the hall, speaking at the same time and in the same tone and staring at him with their matching dead eyes…Brrrr. Did it just get colder in here?

The Shining Honorable Mention: The Typewriter

This is a worthy moment that I had to mention. Wendy Torrance discovers the depths of her husband Jack’s insanity when she sees what he’s been writing: one sentence over and over again. Creepy to the max.

 6: The Crawlers (The Descent)

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One of my very favorite creature features, The Descent also has one of my top scary moments. When a group of tough ladies goes on a spelunking trip to a series of unexplored caves, they soon find themselves trapped and pursued by creepy, dangerous predators. The film dubs these beasties “crawlers,” and they are humanlike, but extremely pale and basically sightless. Oh yeah, and they have the munchies for raw flesh. The first time you see one of these nasty buggers via night vision, it’ll give you a major case of the willies.

 5: Toca la Pared (The Orphanage)

Spanish horror The Orphanage (aka El Orfanato) has been one of my absolute favorite scary films for some time. The premise is just too cool: Laura moves into her old orphanage with her husband and son, hoping to fix the place up and make it into a home for disabled children. But ghosts of the orphans—the kids Laura grew up with—linger. At one point, she decides to play a game with these ghosts—a game they played when she was little. It’s called “toca la pared,” or “knock on the wall,” and it is the most terrifying game ever. That’s all I’m sayin’.

The Orphanage Honorable Mention: The Mask

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Another one I simply must mention: any time we see the above mask, which I’m pretty sure was once a burlap sack used to tote around nightmares, children’s tears, and the spawn of Satan. Just guessing, though.

 4: Samara Says Hello (The Ring)

 

A unique horror tale of a video tape that kills, The Ring as a whole is pretty freaky, but all of its other scary moments combined do not add up to the terrifying final minutes of the film, when angry ghost child Samara crawls out of the damn TV to kill someone. Just the way she walks toward the camera and how she emerges from the screen, dripping and dragging herself and looking all nasty…UGH. I CAN’T.

 3: The Spider-Walk (The Exorcist)

Some people might not even be aware of this moment in The Exorcist, as I believe it’s only on the extended edition, but it just haunts me. Poor, possessed Regan has already begun to show signs of not exactly being herself, but if I recall, the spider-walk down the stairs pretty much seals the deal for her mother to seek an exorcism. It’s so unnatural and eerie that it gets me every time…

The Exorcist Honorable Mention: The Head Spin

This is probably the scariest Exorcist scene for most viewers, and it’s a very, very close second for me. Regardless of the second place ribbon I gave it, it’s one of the most iconic horror film moments. Also, one more gif because I couldn’t resist…

2: The Creature ([Rec])

This…this is the scariest creature I have ever seen in my life. [Rec] is a pretty freaky found-footage style Spanish film. If you’ve seen Quarantine, it’s basically the same thing, but the creature at the end of [Rec] is much, MUCH scarier. TV reporter Ángela has found her way to a secret room in the apartment complex where she is quarantined due to the outbreak of a mysterious disease. This room is where the disease began, and as Ángela and her cameraman look around, the creature pops up. The way it looks and the way it moves…Oh man. Again, I just CAN’T. Literally, I almost couldn’t watch the end.

 1: The Possession (Paranormal Activity)

I’m sure plenty of people would disagree, but for me this is the scary moment. Poor Katie and her idiot boyfriend Micah have been tormented by an angry demon for quite a while, and bit by bit it has been chipping away at Katie’s nerves until finally she’s vulnerable enough for it to take hold—and boy does it take hold. Katie has completely gone over the edge in the final moments of the film, and after a dramatic finale with lots of staring and yelling and violence, Katie sneaks in for a final close-up, and her face…changes. Creeps. Me. Out. It’s such a tense moment that sometimes I can’t even stand to watch it.

Paranormal Activity Honorable Mention: Katie Gets Dragged

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Though the very end of Paranormal Activity is the moment that gets me the most, this is another scary one. Suddenly, the demon takes on a much more physical role, actually dragging Katie out of bed. It’s enough to make you wrap yourself up tight in bed and sleep with a light on.

National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983) Guest Review

Here’s my second entry into T9M’s John Hughes blogathon!

Cinema Parrot Disco

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This review for the John Hughes Blogathon comes from Zoe of The Sporadic Chronicles Of A Beginner Blogger. Thanks for the reviews, Zoe! Zoe famously hated Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – Let’s see what she thought of National Lampoon’s Vacation. 🙂

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“Why aren’t we flying? Because getting there is half the fun. You know that.”
– Clark Griswold

The Griswold family is destined to take a trip, but before it begins it even appears doomed. For one, their new car never arrived, and they had to settle for a Wagon Queen Family Truckster. Instead of the new sleek sportier station wagon, they get a hunk of junk. Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo) is angry with her husband Clark (Chevy Chase) for having settled for the car as well as the fact that he insists they do not fly from Chicago to Los Angeles to the amusement park Walley World. He…

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Review: The Gunslinger – Stephen King

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Dark Tower #1

SYNOPSIS: Roland is a haunting figure, a loner, on a spellbinding journey toward the mysterious Dark Tower, in a desolate world which frighteningly echoes our own.

On his quest, Roland begins a friendship with a kid from New York named Jake, encounters an alluring woman and faces an agonising choice between damnation and salvation as he pursues the Man in Black.

 

GRADE 7I enjoyed the book though it is definitely not King’s finest piece of literature, I also understand that he wrote this when he was young and overly influenced by other people (which is evident at times, it does not have the same flow and rhythm that is typical of King). I liked the world that he wrought, though it was exceptionally confusing at times. I found this to be exacerbated by the fact that King did not offer up an awful lot of explanations to the world as he moved along. It was annoying at times but no deal breaker, but also helped lend to the mystery that is sprawled across the pages. Roland Deschain’s history, the little bit one can ascertain, was rather interesting, and it was nice to read. I am interested to see where the story leads, and thought that it was an interesting concept that King played with. I believe that there were quite a few changes that came about in the revised edition and went to look at what they were and I think that all the changes contributed very well for what was to come. The tale so far is epic, though as a first novel in a series there were other ways to have fleshed it out and made it more comprehensive. I am just happy to finally have gotten to this as I have been threatening for years to check out the Dark Tower series.

SPOILERS: The line that Jake uttered before dropping was amazing. “Go then. There are other worlds than these.” Goosebumps every time I think back on it.

Review: Awake (2007)

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“This is just my imagination, that’s all.”
– Clay Beresford

Sam (Jessica Alba) and Clay Beresford (Hayden Christensen) share a very clandestine relationship, something that they are to keep from his mother, Lilith (Lena Olin). Clay is rich from his father’s empire and Sam is his mother’s personal assistant. Lilith is extremely possessive and overprotective of her son, who is dying from a heart condition. Clay is very close to Dr Jack Harper (Terrence Howard), his heart surgeon. Jack is part of a public hospital, and not one of the incredibly private ones that his mother would rather have him be with, though she lets him be. Lilith is furious to discover the relationship between Sam and Clay, though she ultimately has no control over it when Clay makes it evident that he wants to be with Sam, no matter what.

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“I think my new heart will love you as much as my old one.” – Clay Beresford

Once Sam realises that Clay is serious and that he is with her and her alone, the two decide to elope, and Clay gets Jack involved. The couple weds and they are happy, and as if things couldn’t be better, Clay receives a phone call in the middle of the night telling him that a donor has been found. He and Sam rush to the hospital, where Jack is waiting. Naturally, Lilith is there and in full mode to contest Clay’s decision to use Jack as his doctor. She has a private heart surgeon that has worked on presidents and all sorts, and she insists that Clay stop his foolishness and use the best of the best to make sure that he comes through. Lilith and Clay argue some more, not over just Sam, but now over Jack, too. Ultimately Clay makes the decision: Jack will perform his surgery.

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“He’s my friend mother, I trust him.” – Clay Beresford

However, it is in surgery when things start to go awry. Clay is under, but terrifyingly is experiencing anesthesia awareness. He is paralysed completely, though is mind is aware of each and every thing that is going on around him. The surgical pain that he is experiencing is terrible, and Clay does what he can to not think about it, wishing that someone would realise that there is a problem. Nothing shows up on the monitors, and the surgery continues as normal. Clay tries to move his mind elsewhere, and as a result has a clairvoyant experience. The journey that he undergoes starts off just fine and rapidly takes on an alarming tone. Lilith and Sam are at odds in the waiting room, and Lilith soon finds out that Sam and Clay have eloped, infuriating her some more. She detests Sam for swooping in and stealing her son. Nobody is telling the two what is going on in surgery, and Sam finally decides to go and find out what the status is. Instead of a regular request to a doctor, she heads straight into surgery, where Clay is aware of everything going on around him.

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“Clay, you’ve got your whole life ahead of you.” – Lilith Beresford

Will anyone realise that there is something wrong with Clay? Did he make the right choice when he insisted that Jack be his surgeon? Are Clay and Sam destined to spend their lives together? Will he survive the surgery and return to his wife? Will Sam and Lilith find a way to work out their differences for the sake of the man that they love? What are the experiences that Clay is having? Of the things that he is seeing, hearing and remembering, which ones are real?

I will give Awake a 6.5/10. This movie was recommended to me by a friend and then a colleague. I looked into it and I have to say it was pretty good. I enjoyed the concept (I mean who the hell wants to go for an op and be paralysed but totally aware?!) and I like Hayden Christensen, despite his unpopularity with so many people. In any event, I thought that was well done. Everything worked fine, though when he was put under and realised that he was awake Christensen didn’t sound even remotely convincing, but made up for it with how the story progressed. There were holes and the ending felt a little rushed and all. Lena Olin was pretty good as his overprotective and controlling mother. I would be terrified of an operation of that scale at any age. The twist that popped up may not have been revolutionary, but it worked very nicely and well here. If things couldn’t get worse for Clay, he had to think about that again. Terrence Howard was cool too, and I thought that the cast worked pretty well overall. The movie was sufficiently interesting to keep me watching and is worth checking out if you haven’t seen it. I had fun with it, and the director Joby Harold manages to keep things fresh and enjoyable with a decent concept, so well done for that, it doesn’t happen nearly often enough.

The Iconic Book Scene – Divergent

Here’s another submission of mine for The Iconic Book Scene over at Life of this City Girl!

Life of this city girl

Zoë over at the Sporadic Chronicles of a Beginner Blogger sent through this scene that I absolutely adore as well! Divergent is in South-African cinemas in a little more than a week’s time, and I CAN’T wait! Enjoy!

Divergent

If you are interested in participating, email me your favorite scene at natashastander@gmail.com 🙂

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Sporadic Scene: WALL-E (2008) – Bra Discovery

I don’t need the whole scene, just the gif, because this is it. I mean really, it was so cute that I couldn’t help but laugh at how ridiculous WALL-E putting a bra on over his eyes was.

If you have a scene that you would like featured, drop me a mail at sporadiczoe@hotmail.com with a picture/gif/video of the scene and an explanation as to why (should you want to include it).