CHICAGO – The issue of gender identity, especially for those who are born with a vagueness as to what to call themselves between/beyond boy and girl, has come front and center in the U.S., both with the legalization of gay marriage and the callous repudiation of identity by trying to pass laws dismissing it (the North Carolina “bathroom” laws). The performance companies of The Living Canvas and Nothing Without a Company is currently staging “[Trans]formation,” which presents gender identity art by six performers, who perform most of the play in the nude.
Film Review: Near-Perfect ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ Defies Common Sequel Disappointment
CHICAGO – If the original is anything to applaud, the sequel usually isn’t. And even more rarely is the sequel actually better.
While it’s aggressive to market “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” as one of the “best superhero movies of all time” and more realistic to pitch it as “better than ‘The Avengers,’” it most certainly is 2014’s best action flick yet and it definitely defies common sequel disappointment.
When I think back on “Captain America: The First Avenger” three years ago, I recall it being just fine. I snoozed through a bit of it, I was somewhat underwhelmed by a lot of it and I remember leaving thinking I just got more of the same Hollywood blockbuster formula.
I wasn’t surprised, blown away or boldly thrown off guard by twists and turns I couldn’t have expected. A scrawny nobody gets a high-tech government serum and it’s just like Popeye eating his spinach. Fine. We got it.
|Read Adam Fendelman’s full review of “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”.|
But three years later, it drops its initial director Joe Johnston. He has a dartboard of directorial credits including “Hidalgo,” “Jurassic Park III,” “Jumanji,” “The Rocketeer” and “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids”.
Instead, it brings on an even more surprising choice: Anthony Russo and Joe Russo. These guys are known for directing TV comedies including “Community” and “Arrested Development” along with lighthearted films such as “You, Me and Dupree”.
They’ve certainly never taken on a comic-book blockbuster. But with the same two screenwriters inking the sequel (Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely) from the same two comic-book guys (Joe Simon and Jack Kirby) and the addition of Ed Brubaker’s concept and story, the Russo boys are in good hands.
Their mission? Drop our frozen-in-time Captain America into the modern world to battle a new threat from old history. The final product? They mold their well-formed clay with all of the fun, drama, story, action and special effects you can ask for from Marvel and a Hollywood blockbuster.
Photo credit: Marvel Studios