The Valdosta Daily Times
“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” (Action/Science-Fiction: 2 hours, 16 minutes)
Starring: Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Anthony Mackie and Robert Redford
Directors: Anthony Russo and Joe Russo
Rated: PG-13 (Violence and strong language)
Movie Review: “Captain America: The First Avenger” (Director Joe Johnston, 2011) was a cinematic treat. “The Winter Soldier” is just as enjoyable, even if the “enemy within” concept is becoming all too cliché. Most will not notice the narrative elements. This time, the story is surrounded by plenty of action sequences offering plenty of distractions.
Steve Rogers (Evans), also known as Captain America, ponders the power of government overreach and the amount of power it indicates it needs to protect citizens. Just as Rogers ponders resigning from his duties with SHIELD, the intelligence agency’s director, Nick Fury (Jackson), arrives at his apartment with a secretive device, a very sophisticated flash drive. Fury gives Rogers the device and warns him not to trust anyone. Rogers and Natasha Romanoff (Johansson), the Black Widow, must discover the mystery left by Director Fury. In addition, Rogers must face his past just as a powerful new Russian villain called the Winter Soldier arrives.
Movies based on Marvel Comics have been exceptionally good entertainment. If one likes action, this is the movie. Unlike its prequel, it contains one action scene after the next. Explosions, car chases and gunfights are plentiful. The movie excels in these elements. These matters are plentiful to the point they overshadow the story.
Evans, Jackson, and Johansson appear to be having a good time. They are settled in the roles now, having played them in at least two to three movies.
Evans is stoic. He plays the superhero well. He has all of the traits of the traditional hero, muscled, athletic and virtuous. Jackson appears to play every role with enthusiasm. Known for his trademark profanity, Jackson uses a milder than usual word, but it works in a pivotal scene. Johansson joins Evans and Jackson. She plays a tough, militaristic woman well.
The surprise in this sequel is Academy Award recipient Robert Redford as Secretary Alexander Pierce. He is a talented legendary actor. He plays a political administrator superbly. He brings a serious clout to the film.
These characters exist in a story with plenty of action. The action has priority and takes away from the story occasionally. The film also tries to put too much in one screenplay. It adds several concepts that did not need inclusion in this screenplay. There, the film wastes time with few scenes that are unneeded to facilitate the main plot. As the plot becomes clearer with each scene, it holds the attention nicely and creates some intense moments. However, smart audiences will see the plot is transparent. The ending is predictable.
These matters are small minuses when conceiving the entire film. Overall, “The Winter Soldier” is fine entertainment. It engages, and it is never boring.
Grade: B (The Captain still a worthy hero.)
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” (Comedy/Adventure: 1 hour, 40 minutes)
Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Tony Revolori, Saoirse Ronan and F. Murray Abraham
Director: Wes Anderson
Rated: R (Profanity, violence, nudity and some sexual content)
Movie Review: Wes Anderson’s films are “out there” imaginative accounts. He creates nice diversions. The notables are “Rushmore” (1998), “The Royal Tenenbaums” (2001) and “Moonrise Kingdom” (2012). They are an escape from reality and into a fantasy world as seen by Anderson. “Grand Budapest Hotel” has that same sort of quirkiness and humor.
This movie recounts the adventures of M. Gustave H (Fiennes), a legendary concierge of a grand European hotel and his protégé, the hotel’s Junior Lobby Boy, Zero Moustafa (Revolori). After Madame D. (Tilda Swinton), a wealthy octogenarian and lover of Gustave, mysteriously dies, the deceased matriarch leaves a very valuable painting to Gustave. Madame D.’s family, especially her nephew, Dmitri (Brody), is not amused with her giving away the painting “Boy with Apple,” and frame Gustave. This creates a long process of Gustave and Zero trying to survive many elements, including Madame D.’s family’s attempt to kill them.
This comedy is zany. It is an oddball set of characters mixed to create a charming piece of entertainment. Fiennes and Revolori are gratifyingly sound actors in slapstick material for a number of scenes. Ronan, Abraham, Brody, and Willem Dafoe appear to relish their roles, too. Director Anderson also uses several actors from his other films in cameos. The scenes all work to produce an enjoyable production.
This is an escapist movie. It is a nice getaway to a colorful world and extravagant set designs. The visuals created are as creative and unique as the story. The backdrops often add another dimension to Anderson’s stories. They become a facet for facilitating the story. The set designs are perfect to portray both time and emotive elements to complement characters.
“Grand Budapest Hotel” delights by being unexpectedly pleasant. It is an enjoyable treat for those looking for an easy diversion. Sure, it is goofy at parts, but those moments make the movie endearing.
Grade: B (A place for grand fun.)
“Bad Words” (Comedy: 1 hour, 29 minutes)
Starring: Jason Bateman, Kathryn Hahn, Rohan Chand, Philip Baker Hall and Allison Janney
Director: Jason Bateman
Rated: R (Profanity, sexual innuendo, sexuality, crude humor, violence, nudity and alcoholism involving a child)
Movie Review: “Bad Words” is an adult comedy. The title suggests exactly what this film contains. A large assortment of profanity is prevalent. However, the perverse language serves as a means to know the main character and his anger towards everyone.
Jason Bateman makes his feature directorial debut, playing Guy Trilby. He is a 40-year-old adult who, through a rules loophole, enters The Golden Quill national spelling bee. Other participants are children not beyond eighth-grade schooling. Officials and parents are angry, but this does not stop Trilby from crushing his youthful competitors. Meanwhile, Trilby has relationships with two people. He forms an unlikely friendship with a competitor, the 10-year-old Chaitanya Chopra (Chand from “Lone Survivor,” 2013). Trilby also has a unique association with reporter Jenny Widgeon (Hahn of “We’re the Millers”), she wants to find Trilby’s true motivation for competing against children.
From the start, one can rule out Trilby suffers from a mental problem. He is too sanely intelligent. If his elevator is skipping floors, it is difficult to observe. Therefore, one must contemplate his motive. Trilby has a plan. He says it continuously. He is in the spelling bee tournament to win it. Of course, this is a man with a plan. Bateman plays that man well.
Trilby is a coarse man with a filthy mouth, and his actions are deplorable. Yet, enough sympathy for him exists that disliking him is not an option. Bateman plays the guy earnestly without overdoing it. Bateman’s charm is that he has that everyman demeanor.
Bateman has a nice chemistry with Chand, who plays his best friend and rival. Despite more than 30 years in age difference, the two make an agreeable comic duo. Bateman’s moments with Hahn (“The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” 2013) are interesting. Hahn plays the one character of whom others should be suspicious. Her motives are a mixture of odd to self-indulgence. A reporter will do anything for a story, but her personal life and professional life appear desperate. She tries finding herself through her work. This leaves Chaitanya Chopra as the mature member of this screenplay. Chopra behaves like the adult when coupled with a more adolescent behaving Trilby.
None of the characters behaves as one would think they should. This is the keen humor of “Bad Words.” The only persona acting his age is seasoned actor Hall who plays The Golden Quill’s resident Dr. Bowman. Hall brings a sense of grounded realism to this comedy.
The comedy is a crude piece with immature characters in an unlikely plot. Could such a predicament happen outside the movies? Chances are it could not. However, it plays for laughs. It achieves that smartly.
Grade: B- (Bad words in an enjoyable comedy.)