Anniversary Week: My Fave Five: Year 1 Reviews

This is it, happy anniversary Drew’s Reviews!  That’s right, one year ago today I started this blog, posting reviews for several summer blockbusters (two of which are on this list).  Now over 70 reviews later, I have come a long way in my writing and have noticed much improvement.  So for my first Fave Five list, I decided to focus on the reviews I have written over the last year that have marked an accomplishment in my writing or has left an impact on it.  I hope to start doing “My Fave Five” features semi-frequently.  Put simply, it is a list of my five favorite movies on a particular topic.  With that out of the way, let’s get started.

Man of Steel movie poster5) Man of Steel

I’m not exactly sure why I like my Man of Steel review so much.  It has just stuck with me.  This was one of my original six reviews I had written to kick off this blog.  As I stated at the beginning of the review, I am not a huge fan of Superman.  Maybe that is why it has become one of my favorite reviews, because despite my dislike for the character, I was still able to keep an open mind about the movie and stay objective.  I was able to prove to myself I can review a movie on its merits rather than my feelings about the character.  Up until recently, Man of Steel was the longest review I had written, so that was another reason why it stuck with me so strongly

4) I, FrankensteinI, Frankenstein movie poster

I, Frankenstein is the only lightning review on this list.  Just a heads up, it’s not a very good movie, but that’s beside the point.  I like this review because I believe I was able to completely portray my feelings towards the movie in under 200 words.  Sometimes when I am writing a lightning review, I feel there is more I could add, but not enough to really make it a full review.  But for this review, I didn’t have that feeling and thought everything I had to say was present.

How to Train Your Dragon movie poster3) How to Train Your Dragon

Oh, man, How to Train Your Dragon.  Such a great movie.  If you have not seen it yet, go out and do so immediately.  But the fact that this is such a great movie is not why it’s on this list (since that’s not what this list is about).  I’ve included it because this was the first movie I reviewed on a recommendation and was very satisfied with the way the review turned out.  Needless to say, my friend who recommended it to me was satisfied with it, too.  There were also a few stylistic things I did differently which I felt improved the readability of the review.

2) World War ZWorld War Z movie poster

World War Z was another one of my original six reviews (I should really come up with a cool and catchy name for those).   I had no idea what this movie was about, other than zombies and that it was adapted from a book series, when I went to go see it in theaters.  Normally I stay pretty up to date with films that are coming out, but I had zero information.  Like Man of Steel, this is another of my reviews that has stuck with me because I demonstrated to myself that I was able to write reviews no matter the circumstances.  In this case, going into a movie cold turkey without any clue about it and still churning out a pretty solid review.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier movie poster1) Captain America: The Winter Soldier

When I was thinking about which movies to include on this Fave Five list, I knew without a doubt my review of Captain America: The Winter Soldier would be number one.  I found this was one of the easiest reviews for me to write.  Everything I wanted to say just came to me in a way I can’t describe.  After this, that became a more common occurrence and I felt I crossed a threshold in my writing.  Not only that, I found myself having better content in my reviews, in particular reviews of new releases.  To me, there can be no other review at the top of this list besides Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Today has been all about favorites.  I reviewed my favorite Star Wars movie, Return of the Jedi, and now I examined my favorite reviews of Drew’s Reviews’ year one.  Tomorrow the Star Wars reviews enter into the prequel trilogy and later there will be a special review (two reviews in one day? Whaa?).  It’s been a great year and I look forward to what the next one brings!

Captain America: The Winter Soldier Review

Captain America: The Winter Soldier movie posterSynopsis
Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is trying to integrate into the modern world after being frozen since World War II. To occupy his time, he takes on missions for SHIELD. When director of SHIELD Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) is attacked by a mysterious assailant known as the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), Steve must confront an enemy from his past, an enemy he thought was long forgotten.

Oh Marvel, you clever people. Few studios can continuously churn out movies the way you do and maintain such a high quality. Captain America: The Winter Soldier continues Marvel’s excellent Phase 2 slate of movies by stepping on the accelerator and never slowing down. Add equal parts action, spy thriller, and character development, with a great reveal and an explosive ending that leaves the Marvel Cinematic Universe with a new status-quo, and you’ve got yourself a movie that not only excels as a superhero movie, but an action and spy thriller as well.

The movie starts with Cap going on a mission to free SHIELD agents kidnapped when their ship is hijacked by pirates (which introduced Batroc the Leaper, played by former UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St-Pierre, into the Cinematic Universe). This scene shows much about how Cap thinks about the world, about how soldiers should trust each other, and sows seeds of his doubt about working for such a secretive organization such as SHIELD. It was the first look at his mindset and the rest of the movie does great to build off what is seen in this first scene (well technically second but the first was the opening scene so it doesn’t count).

The action only continues to grow from there. All the action set pieces are huge and look amazing. Every action sequence is filled to the brim with explosions and/or hand-to-hand combat, all of which are extremely well choreographed. The scenes with the Winter Soldier were especially exhilarating. Going back to the opening scene and the ship infiltration scene I mentioned, it is clearly obvious Cap has a significant strength advantage over, well, pretty much everyone else. What’s great about the Winter Soldier is he gives Cap an adversary that not only had a personal connection with him, but also could match Cap blow for blow.

Cap’s fighting style has evolved much since he donned his shield back in The First Avenger. In that film he wasn’t using it much since he was just starting. And in The Avengers, he was throwing his shield around and using his military combat training, but his fighting style still wasn’t yet that developed. But in this movie, we get to see what Cap is truly capable of as a man in peak physical condition. He is very acrobatic, leaping around his enemies and parkouring around his environment and utilizing his shield more offensively and effectively.

I was surprised how much screen time Agent Sitwell has. I always thought he was just a SHIELD agent that Marvel could throw in to give the audience a familiar face. That’s changed. He has a significant role this time around. I’ve always felt Maximiliano Hernandez did great with the part, so it was cool to see him in a more expanded role. On the flip side, I was hoping Agent 13, aka Sharon Carter aka Peggy Carter’s daughter (although that part wasn’t explained in the movie), played by Emily VanCamp, would have more screen time. I guess there were enough new characters introduced that someone had to go on the backseat. Hopefully she will have a larger role in Captain America 3.

Marvel has done well to develop strong villains in their movies, most of whom have some sort of personal relationship with the hero. The villain here, more than just the Winter Soldier, has a close relationship with Cap. I was taken aback when they showed their true colors and revealed themselves. Not only was the reveal executed effectively, but they had a deep motivation to their actions.

As I said before, the action in The Winter Soldier is huge and spectacular. However, there was one problem: it was hard to see it with the camera shaking so much! The shaky-cam can be used as an interesting effect, but when it is used all the time, it becomes jarring and irritating and is one of my movie pet peeves. I would have loved to see the fight between Cap and The Winter Soldier in all its glory, especially because it was clear a lot of effort went into making it exhilarating.

From the first explosive scene, you know right away you are in for a wild ride. Even during the non-action scenes, Captain America: The Winter Soldier keeps you interested in what is happening on screen. The action set pieces are huge and impressive, with some well choreographed hand-to-hand fights thrown in for good measure. Caps style has really grown since he first picked up his shield and he shows what a super soldier is capable of. Sitwell had a larger part than anticipated, which is welcome since I have always enjoyed the character. The reveal of the villain is well done and even took me somewhat by surprise. Even if you pick it up from the trailer, it isn’t exactly what you think. As cool as the action was, it was shot using the shaky-cam effect, making the awesome action sequences difficult to watch. Without a doubt, Captain America: The Winter Soldier has left the Marvel Cinematic Universe drastically changed and I can’t wait to see how the pieces are picked up in The Avengers: Age of Ultron.


Also check out my reviews for the other films in Marvel’s Phase 2: Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, and Guardians of the Galaxy.


Cast & Crew
Anthony Russo – Director
Joe Russo – Director
Christopher Markus – Screenplay
Stephen McFeely – Screenplay
Ed Brubaker – Story
Henry Jackman – Composer

Chris Evans – Steve Rogers/Captain America
Scarlett Johansson – Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow
Samuel L. Jackson – Nick Fury
Robert Redford – Alexander Pierce
Anthony Mackie – Sam Wilson/Falcon
Sebastian Stan – Winter Soldier
Frank Grillo – Brock Rumlow
Callan Mulvey – Jack Rollins
Cobie Smulders – Maria Hill
Maximiliano Hernandez – Jasper Sitwell
Emily VanCamp – Sharon Carter/Agent 13
Hayley Atwell – Peggy Carter
Jenny Agutter – Councilwoman Hawley
Bernard White – Councilman Singh
Dale Coffman – Councilman Rockwell
Chin Han – Councilman Yen
Georges St-Pierre – Batroc

Captain America: The Winter Soldier Trailer

Synopsis: After the cataclysmic events in New York with The Avengers, Marvel’s “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” finds Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, living quietly in Washington, D.C. and trying to adjust to the modern world. But when a S.H.I.E.L.D. colleague comes under attack, Steve becomes embroiled in a web of intrigue that threatens to put the world at risk. Joining forces with the Black Widow, Captain America struggles to expose the ever-widening conspiracy while fighting off professional assassins sent to silence him at every turn. When the full scope of the villainous plot is revealed, Captain America and the Black Widow enlist the help of a new ally, the Falcon. However, they soon find themselves up against an unexpected and formidable enemy—the Winter Soldier.

I say this after pretty much every Marvel trailer I see, but man i can’t wait for this movie!

The first movie poster was released earlier this week, and now we have the trailer.  The action looks awesome, especially what happens in the elevator scene.  I like Cap’s new outfit, it is very similar to his recent outfit from a few years ago.

Steve Rogers SHIELD Agent Costume captain-america-new-costume1

Although it does seem he will get the new outfit somewhere along the way, since there were several quick seconds towards the end that featured his red and blue costume from The Avengers.  We also get to see Anthony Mackie as The Falcon and Sebastian Stan as the Winter Soldier.  The Winter Soldier looks down right intimidating.  And when he catches the shield?  Hooboy, I got chills!  I was hoping to see some of Emily VanCamp as Sharon Carter (AKA Agent 13), but maybe in the next trailer.

More of SHIELD is shown, too.  From the Helicarrier shipyard-like thing, to more of the higher personnel, such as Robert Redford as Alexander Pierce, a senior SHIELD member.  With Cap working for SHIELD, maybe we get to see more of how it operates and their relationship to the World Council seen in The Avengers.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier, directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, hits theaters April 4, 2014 and stars Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Anthony Mackie, Samuel L. Jackson, Sebastian Stan, Tobert Redford, Emily VanCamp, and Cobie Smulders.