Ravingnerd Reviews: Captain America the Winter Soldier

Naturally I wasn’t finding myself super exciting for the upcoming Captain America film. The first one was good, but in the scope of the Marvel cinematic universe I generally consider it to be on the weaker end of the spectrum. I find one of the biggest complaints that people who are unfamiliar with Captain America is that they claim he isn’t relevant outside of his Nazi fighting escapades. One of the biggest challenges this film had to face was to prove his relevance in our world. Additionally this film had to introduce the Falcon and promised to show case not only Cap but Black Widow as well.

While there was a lot going on in this film, I think the cast was the most compelling. All the long standing characters did an excellent job at further developing their characters. Both Fury and Widow especially got a lot of extra help thanks to strong performances by Sam and Scarlet. I think what drove this film thought was the great turns by both Anthony Mackie and Robert Redford. Both of their performances were stellar and not only drove much of the plot forward, but also in the case of Mackie helped to establish and update a long standing Marvel character. 

In addition to the stellar performances, the movie was home to some of the best action sequences I have ever seen in a film. Period. This movie was strikingly visual and the fights didn’t leave much to the imagination. They were fast paced and energetic. The movie was constantly exciting, and the extremely energetic action sequences made up for it’s predictable plot. Yes, much of the plot was predictable, but that is to be expected. Anyone who has some passive knowledge of comic books will be able to understand the big Winter Solider twist. That being said, the plot is involving and does keep you on the end of your seat. Lastly this film benefits from having loose subject material to base itself on. Many of my complaints with comic book films is that they play it loose with the subject material. This film however nails the parts it needs to while allowing everything else to fall into place organically.

All in all this is one of the best films in the Marvel universe. It’s catching, gripping, and entertaining. The films shortfalls are few and superfluous in comparison to the scope of the film. This movie did everything it needed to do and more. By a landslide.

My final ranking of the film is an 8/10. This film was solid and should easily fit within the top 5 Marvel films. I highly recommend this film to any one who enjoys comic books and anyone who finds themselves invested in the ongoing plot line of the Marvel movie universe.

My favorite moment of the film was probably Anthony Mackie’s performance. They did a stellar job at updating and introducing the character to the Marvel Universe and the friendship he developed with Cap was one of the nicer touches to the film.

My least favorite moment of the film was when everyone gasped when they revealed that Bucky was the Winter Solider. Read a book.

Until the next time,

Rn 

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Ravingnerd Reviews: Avengers #2

If you can recall I was quite pleased and surprised with the first issue of Hickman’s Avengers, I however also predicted a sharp decline in the book’s progress and enjoy-ability as the title rolled on. It was only upon reading it that I could determine if I was right or not. Here is what I liked about the issue.

1. There are quite a few humorous moments, most notably during the recruitment of Wolverine and Spider-Man.
2. Sunspot and Cannonball sign on just because it was Cap. That says a lot about the character, and his importance to the Marvel U. It is refreshing to see it play out.
3. The art is quite dazzeling. I found myself drawn into most of this issue just based on shear art. Opena scores big again.

Rating before reading: 7
Rating after reading: 6 (and a generous one at that)

While this issue is being praised for it’s “inventive use of time”, it felt more like a waste of time to me. Most of the comic is either origin from the bad guys (a whole three pages of which we read in the last issue, word for word, panel for panel. I checked). Much of the recruitment seems unnecessary. Where did the Avengers go? Perhaps I don’t quite understand the dynamics of the team, but I wasn’t aware the Avengers had officially disbanded. I had thought they were off doing their own thing at the moment. Cap and Tony shouldn’t need a recruitment drive to pick up the likes of Spider-Man, Wolverine, and others. They should already be members. Though it added humor, it tried to make it seem as if the Avengers had been away. And it certainly doesn’t feel like that. At least not to me. My other problem was the lack of explanation for some of the characters. Who the hell is Captain Universe, Hyperion, Smasher, or Manifold? I know I’m not the most in touch with the Marvel Universe, but I certainly have no idea who the hell these people are (other than Hyperion is just Superman). I will not complain about continuity, as I already have. This Spider-Man in this issue was Peter. Go to Newsarama and read their take on Marvel NOW continuity. I am not going to criticize it hear, it’s much too early for me to do that.

So While there was still a spark of life in this book, my predictions for this series are proving true so far. Anyone else have any thoughts?

Until the next time,

Rn

Ravingnerd Reviews: Uncanny Avengers #1

The time is NOW! Marvel NOW! is finally upon us, and we’ll get at least one new issue a week for the foreseeable future. Uncanny Avengers is supposed to be the new status quo team of the Marvel Universe, being the leading member of MN!’s trinity (Hickman’s Avengers, and Bendis’ X-Men make up the other two). In concept, this would work well. The team of Remender, Hickman, and Bendis have enough credibility to write a universe alone, but combined, it they’d be a force to be reckoned with. Well, at least they should have…. Here’s what I did like:

1. When Xavier appears in the flashback sequences, all I hear is Patrick Stewart. Which is a very good thing.
2. We get a teaser for All-New X-Men.
3. Havok is important now.

Rating before reading: 6
Rating after reading: 5

I have to admit I was anticipating this title, I was worried about its quality would blow me away, and I’d struggle to add it to my pull list. What we got was a comic not worthy of most people’s pull list, and this is for a variety of reasons.

1. Everyone makes a huge deal out of Xavier’s death. While I’m sure in continuity it’s quite traumatic, the reality is he’s been AFK for so long that few readers could really care. I honestly thought he was dead until they killed him off. Also, these are comic books. No one stays dead (Xavier sure didn’t). Especially given the publicity Human Torch got upon his death, and he was back in action not 6 months later. It’s hard for me to believe in a story, that we as readers know will not be worth it in a years time. Though I guess this lends itself to the “NOW” part. Marvel isn’t concerned with later. They are only trying to carry on some sense of momentum AvX got them.

2. It doesn’t end there. Scott’s being blamed as the bad guy on almost all sides, when in reality shouldn’t the Phoenix be to blame? Granted I didn’t read AvX, but I sure as hell followed along. I didn’t get the same reaction to Scott everyone in the Marvel Universe did.

3. Everyone whines. Havok doesn’t want to be leader. Rogue’s being dramatic, and Scarlett Witch is being overzealous. The only people who I can’t find fault with were Cap and Thor, and that might be because they didn’t add any personality to the story whatsoever.

Ultimately Uncanny Avengers starts off to a very rocky start. The ideas are there, and the art is fabulous, but the concept and the execution still need work. This team feels more like Avengers + 1 rather than a mix of both teams. Multiple X-Men have not been Avengers, and they overlooked almost all of them. This sudden interest in Alex Summers was refreshing for a fan such as myself, but very out-of-place within the story. Uncanny Avengers failed to deliver the wow that it needed too to impress me into believing Marvel NOW! was a good idea. This leaves MN! with 3 more chances to sway me. However I have to imagine Marvel’s fleet will have a hard time with its flagship barely managing to float.

Until the next time, the future is NOW!

Rn

Divided We Fall: Chapter Four

Divided We Fall continued this week, and what a week it was.

The Ultimates is clearly the place to be for the plot line, as the others have yet to really tie in to make an actual series. This being said, the quality of the Ultimates is enough to make the event bearable. So here we go, Ultimates #14.

The issue focuses on the reformed Ultimates attempting to take out the Nuclear armed Texas. The Ultimates seem to have new-found faith in themselves with the return of Captain America. While the team makes quick work of Texas, and forces them to join them into the union, this seemed to be the goal of the dual eyed villain, who was busy making plans else where.

Another hint as to who the villain might have been was leaked, as the gold the Texans were using as money was marked with Loki’s symbol. This appeared on the dual eyed man’s gloves. Could Loki be alive after all, haunting the Ultimate Universe again? Only time will tell.

On to crisis watch, while Texas was disarmed a new nation on the Pacific coast and Wyoming have established themselves as threats, this amidst a scandal to replace the acting president. All of this has been masterminded by our dual eyed mystery man. The crisis will continue next week with X-Men, how will Kitty Pryde’s story play into the power of this west coast nation, and where will Spider-Man fit into this event?

Stay tuned for more Divided We Fall coverage.

Until the next time, watch out for dual eyed men.

Rn

Ravingnerd Reviews: AvX Round 1

Enough time has passed, where I fell comfortable (and have the income enough) to pick up back issues of this series every week (should I choose too). I purchased but did not review issue #0 as I felt it was rather unneccessary. But with this weeks fourth printing of AvX #1, I was able to snag the last copy at my shop and give it a try. I don’t intend this to be a collector’s item, otherwise picking up a 4th printing would never happen. Anyway, without further ado (and though months late) may I present what I liked about Round 1.
1. Nova got his butt kicked. And since I dislike him, that part rocked.
2. We got to see cameo appearances of many lesser important X-Men. Many of whom are my favorite Marvel characters.
3. Captain America did his thing, which is be a leader. And in doing so, made me question one of my favorite characters (Cyclops).
4. Cyclops shot first.

Rating before reading: 4

Rating after reading: 6

It was a solid “good”. It was nothing better than that, but it is an attention grabber. It makes you want to pick up the next issue, which is what a first issue is supposed to do right? While there are many problems with the issue, most notably the lack of great writing or dialogue. This issue is setting up for smashing. Thus the dialogue can’t be all that great, and I am sure in the future it won’t be all that great either.

Well, I hope you enjoyed it.

Until the next time, live long and prosper.

Rn

Memorial Day Super Post!

Happy Memorial Day everyone! I hope you all celebrated it in the best way possible! As many of you may know by now, I love lists. And on this day, I will list the seven best soldiers in comics (you don’t get that reference, do you?)! Think this sounds boring? You’re probably right, but I invite you to enjoy! It’s probably the most themed activity you will have done all day!

7. The Punisher. I will say this. Frank Castle is a great soldier. The only problem is whom he attacks. Which is just about anybody in the Marvel Universe. And on occasions, the DCU as well. While he is perhaps the most proficient soldier, he is certainly the most immoral of those on my list.

6. Al Pratt. While commonly known as the Golden Age Atom, this man was a soldier first. Pratt turned is small stature from a disadvantage into a costumed identity. Al become one of the most famous heroes in the DCU, but this status was only born from his status as a soldier.

5. Bucky Barnes. Perhaps one of the greatest soldiers in comics. He falls here on the list because he died young. Well died and then became a Communist Super Soldier. And that’s the thing. This is Memorial Day. It celebrates American heroes, not Communists. AMERICA!

4. Sgt. Rock. One of America’s most enduring soldiers. The Rock has been in print since the 40’s, and has served in virtually every war in the 20th and 21st centuries. Rock is a tough as nails soldier, who cares for his men as only a dedicated leader could. That does not stop him from being the most decorated soldier in the armed forces. Who some how doesn’t age.

3. Diana Prince. Certainly the most beautiful of all of the soldiers in comics. Diana is the very symbol of modern day America. An empowered, but attractive female that can be just as capable as her male counterparts. Unfortunately, this is also often her downfall. For those who don’t read comic books, Diana often gets lost in an insatiable bloodlust. Good soldiers don’t enjoy slaughtering dozens of nazi’s at a time with a magical sword.

2. Bruce Wayne. Yes, it’s a stretch, as he isn’t an actual soldier, but he has dedicated his life to fighting what he sees as evil, and has undergone much training to do so. Bruce Wayne turned himself into a crusader against all odds. So while he is the only person on the list who was never at one point an enlisted man/woman, he certainly deserves the high place on the list he has.

1. Captain America. Come on. I mean come on. Did you think anybody else would be here? He is a cultural icon in both the real world and the fictional Marvel Universe. He is a soldier. That is his thing. The powerful characterization about Cap is that he doesn’t attempt to fight his instincts as a soldier. He instead uses it as a moral bearing and standard for the entire Marvel Universe.

Ravingnerd Reviews: Avengers (in 3-D!)

Welcome everyone, I don’t want to waste much time with formalities but should offer insight to those readers whom are not also on my Facebook. I do a series of reviews on comic book movies, that began exactly a year ago with the review of Thor. Since then I have reviewed many a movie, old and new. I follow a set criteria for each review in order to judge each movie by the same standards. Finally, I will rank the movie on a scale of 1-10. With ten being the near unachievable level of comic book movie-mastery.

So, without further review, I present, the Avengers (in 3-D!)

The Cast: Was obviously built with an all-star team of actors. Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Downey Jr, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, and Scarlett Johansson round out the biggest names in the cast. With Tom Hiddleston, Chris Hemsworth, and Chris Evans.
The cast was, of course, brilliant. Each member had a role to play and each one of them did it well. Jeremy Renner wasn’t given enough chance to play Hawkeye really well though, and felt that his performance was the weakest of the team. However brilliant Robert Downey Jr may be, it was not him who stole the show, no, instead it was Mark Ruffalo. As Bruce Banner, he added a depth to the character that had not been seen in any of the previous movies. In addition to this, he served a vital role to the team as Bruce, and not as the Hulk. The Hulk however was the highlight of the action sequences. Pleasing even skeptics like me. Samuel L. Jackson was unnecessary I felt, he served a purpose in the previous movies, but did not serve much purpose within the movie after the beginning, other than talk. Scarlett Johansson was spot on again, turning what I find as a lame comic book character, into an absolute brilliant one. On a similar note, Tom Hiddleston does the role of Loki extremely well. And I despise Loki within comics.

The Plot: Though I hate to admit it, and I really do, the plot was perfect. The movie as a whole felt like the Avengers. While characters were over represented and under represented, it still managed to come together as a solid movie. I disliked that Loki was nothing more than the master of the hordes of transformers/parallax-esqu villains. I would have much prefered to see the team fight the treachery of Loki as opposed to the metal alien things. And even despite the fact that the entire invasion sequence from start until close annoyed me to no end (come on Joss, be a bit more original please?) the plot was still fairly seemless in its execution.

Fighting/Action/Drama/Suspense: This movie perhaps embodies this characteristic better than any other super hero movie. This movie blended thrilling fights (Thor VS Cap VS Iron Man), well done action sequences (Cap and Iron Man repair the engine), Intimate moments of drama (the death of *I don’t do spoilers, go see the movie*), and of thrilling suspense (Hulk running loose through the lower decks). Yes, this movie better combined every aspect mentioned above, than any other super hero movie before it. Add in the immense moments of hilarity, and you are set for 2 of the best spent hours of your life.

The Obscure Nerd References: There were not many, which disappointed me. However, did anyone else squeal when Maria Hill showed up for the firs time? No, just me? Alright then. Previous Marvel movies have all done a terrific job of adding in nerdy easter eggs, and least I could tell, not a whole lot showed up within the film.

The Closeness to the Comic it Hails From: Though many people probably will not let me live this down, it felt EXACTLY like an Avengers movie should feel. With exactly the right number of internal conflicts, problems, and dysfunctions and the ultimate success of the unlikely team. Really, I may dislike the team and the characters within the team, I may dislike the entire Marvel Universe, and I may have wanted this movie to fail, so that I could feel some convoluted sense of justice and a DC victory. But no. This movie was absolutely brilliant, just as it should have been. I will give Joss Whedon a lot of credit in this department.

Overall Feel and Fun: Avengers takes the cake in this category. It was an undesirabley good time. You know a movie that kept my attention and still be so invested in the Marvel Universe had to have been damned awesome for me to be saying these words.

Comparison to Other Like Films: There is none. This is the first film super team, and it proved it worked. Now future ambitious endeavors, including the impending Avengers, sequel will suffer by being compared to the high quality work that this movie is.

Favorite Part of the Movie: There was an interrogation scene between Black Widow and Loki, for two periods within this scene the camera panned out and Loki became blurry, while Black Widow (back turned to the audience) was in perfect view. These two thirty-second sequences allowed me to view Scarlett Johansson’s ass…. IN IMAX 3D. I was a very happy nerd.
Least Favorite Part of the Movie: The Transformer/Parallax bad guys. I was displeased with the lack of uniqueness of them. It felt like they were just “generic summer blockbuster movie additions”. I had hoped for more.

And finally, the result you have probably skipped the entire article to find. The final Score.

Avengers earned a rank of………… 8.

Yes. I struggled with this for sometime. It was a brilliant movie, and the fact that it scored perfectly on multiple criteria allowed it to rank this high.

And now to the part where I piss you off. This movie ties Green Lantern in the eyes of the nerd.

Until the next time, live long and prosper

Rn