Posts Tagged ‘Captain America’

Actually, the real title is: “Is Violence in Movies Okay as Long as it Involves Good Guys like Soldiers, Superheroes, cops, etc.?” 

You can see why I decided to keep cut it down to a couple of words. When I was a kid, I lived on Saving Private Ryan, Band of Brothers, and Black Hawk Down. The only other movies I watched beside those involved dinosaurs. (Land Before Time and Jurassic Park marathon, anyone?) However, I wasn’t allowed to watch movies with gangsters until I was much older. When I was allowed to watch those types of movies, I was accompanied by my parents, and that too had a price to pay: a long lecture on why I shouldn’t be a criminal entitled, “Crime Doesn’t Pay.”

Why? Any ideas of mine to become a gangster or a con man were squashed whenever I watched movies like the Godfather, Goodfellas, or shows like the Sopranos or Breaking Bad. They are the single greatest testaments of why you shouldn’t become a criminal. Michael’s descent into the darkness after he is forced to take over the family business is reason enough for anyone to go “straight”. You can see it in his anguished reaction when his pregnant wife is killed. You can see it in the haunted stare he gives his wife in the closing scene.

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It sends a clear message. “You may have a mansion, but are you really ready to deal with losing everything you hold dear?” I have watched the Godfather over a dozen times, and I still ask myself that same question after each viewing. This question is also asked in Tv shows. In the past decade, we’ve experienced a growth in ‘prestige television’. The Birth of the Antihero technically began over fifty years ago with Alfred Hitchcock Presents, wherein he regularly made ‘good people’ do bad things. There was an episode called ‘Revenge’ where a woman is raped (implied, of course. This was the 50’s. Everything was implied), and when she and her husband are driving, she spots the rapist walking down the street. Her husband pulls over, and they kill him. They get back in the car, and drive away. A few minutes later, she points again, and says she’s spotted her rapist. 

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In that single episode of an anthology suspense series in the 50’s, it approached the subject of rape, psychological trauma, vigilantism, and of course, revenge. So, as you can see, we’ve had morally ambiguous characters for a very long time. I remember watching the Sopranos for the first time. My Dad was worried that I might resort to a life of crime because of it, but I simply kept asking myself the same question I asked during Godfather.

The thing that makes the Sopranos so addicting and visceral to watch is the fact that I would never do anything like it, and the realization that Tony Soprano never thought he was capable of doing it either. He’s unhappy with his family, his work, and more importantly, himself. There is a scene where Christopher (his nephew) talks about his trauma after killing someone, and Tony oh-so-subtly asks him if he ever feels depressed. His sideway glance at him says: “Did I do this?”

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Why is it okay for thousands to die in superhero movies (the best example right now is Man of Steel. I assumed by all the screaming and falling buildings that a couple thousand died there), but it’s deemed immoral for a gangster to kill a few people in a movie? Why are children allowed to watch Captain America kill hundreds with barely any effort (as long as there’s parental guidance), but watching Al Pacino shoot the man who tried to kill his Dad and a corrupt cop not allowed? Of course, there’s also a matter of sexual content in some of these movies, and also the amount of swearing. For years, Goodfellas had the most curses in film history. I think Django Unchained got the crown in 2012, but Scorsese stole it back with Wolf of Wall Street. 

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I hope someday there will be a PG-13 movie centered around a gangster. I’m not saying it’ll be any good, but the idea behind it will be more than enough. In Captain America: The Winter Soldier (my favorite superhero movie, by the way), no one talks about how Steve Rogers is a cold-blooded killer. It’s mentioned here and there, but our thoughts don’t dwell on the number of men he casually kills. Why? Because they’re bad, and he’s a superhero. 

I’m not asking Marvel to pull a DC, and force Chris Hemsworth to talk like someone kicked him in the throat over a dozen times. (In the eternal Marvel vs. DC debate, I’m with Marvel all the way.) I just think it would be interesting if people took a look at what they’re already allowed to get away with in PG-13 movies, and took it to a different level. There was talk about a Deadpool movie, and how it would be impossible to do a PG-13 version. I think they’re right, but if it’s acceptable to show a dinosaur munching on some random guy, why isn’t it acceptable to show a morally ambiguous character doing morally ambiguous things? (“How ambiguous!” the posters say.)

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In the first Hunger Games movie, they used shaky cam a lot to avoid getting slammed with an R-16 rating because of images portraying children killing other children. Ya know, usual PG-13 stuff. Why can’t we do that? I hate shaky cam, but it’s obviously possible to show that kind of stuff, so why hasn’t anyone tried it? As an experiment, it doesn’t have to be big budget. 

Here’s where the big divide between mainstream films and indie films come in. There seems to be this unspoken rule in indie films that they need  to have mature content. It’s as if the director and writer wants to make sure the viewer knows they’re watching an indie movie. “Okay, let’s show them changing clothes here, and talking about killing their estranged father. They’ll never mistake us for the new Avengers movie now!” 

Indie movies are supposed to be showing you something new and different from mainstream movies, but more and more mainstream movies are adopting an “indie” feel. The Wolf of Wall Street is a mainstream film based on its HUGE budget alone. But, its mature subject matter, morally ambiguous main character, and… well, everything in it shouldn’t be allowed. At this point, if indie movies truly want to be different, they should try a PG-13 movie with a hitman as a main character. It could be a failure, but indie movies are already risking a flop every time. It’s strange how they’ve fallen into their own little pattern, or their own safety net. I sometimes feel like you could take ten indie films, switch the actors and titles, and it’d still be the same. 

I grew up watching Saving Private Ryan. I wasn’t mature enough to understand a lot of the things in it, but the images have remained with me after ten years. I despise the idea of war because of it. I understand its necessity in certain situations, but as much as possible, I would avoid war like the plague. Because it is a plague. 

I think it’s time for people to understand that kids aren’t as impressionable as people think they are. I haven’t heard of a thousand kids jumping off skyscrapers to imitate Thor or Superman, so I think they’re smart enough not to copy Tony Montana in Scarface. 

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~Jian

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Ha. I’m only messing with you. This is not an ancient movie at all. Why? Because it’s timeless. For me, it’s absolutely amazing. There are few movies that hail from the 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, or 60’s, or even the 70’s that I can say that for. This is one of those movies. Dr. Strangelove or How I Stopped Worrying and Love the Bomb is my favorite comedy film.

I watched this yesterday, with three other movies. One of the three other movies was Dredd. I’ll write a review on the two others. Considering the strange timing of my reviews, I’m going to compare the two movies. How, you may ask? By comparing the stuff I’ve heard about each of them. Dredd, I’d heard, had riveting action, a great plot, and a fantastic and awesome main character. The riveting action was certainly true, but the plot was average, and the main character was average. It did not live up to the expectations, but I hope it does well at the Box Office. I really do.

Maybe its payout will improve in Home Media.

I heard Dr. Strangelove was the 24th Greatest Comedy Film ever. Do you know how much of a buildup that is? This may come off as a surprise to you, but I love comedy films. I love them whether they’re like Grown Ups, which features some outrageous happenings, or like Death At a Funeral which can be construed as having too much slapstick (but still funny) or like Johnny English which is like… Well, it’s amazing. I can’t explain it any more than that.

So how does Dr. Strangelove measure up to that? It is in my Top 10 Favorites. I added two points to it after the first thirty minutes for the fact that I didn’t care about the black and white, or the fact that it was from 1964. When that happens, it is something to be proud of. Kubrick made a masterpiece with this. Let me tell you a little about it. 

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0057012/

Dr. Strangelove is a satire making fun of the nuclear scare. In this, the U.S. has their Air Force fighters circling Russia, waiting for the Go code to start bombing their primary and secondary targets. There are about 30-40 ships armed with nuclear/hydrogen bombs weighed at 40 Megatons or so. In the words of the movie, each one is stronger than every single bomb (combined) used during WWII. I laughed at that, by the way.

A Colonel tells his Executive Officer, Group Captain Lionel Mandrake (played by the talented Peter Sellers), who is a Brit from the Officer Exchange Program to initiate Wing Attack Plan R as in Robert. 

Mandrake is also told to confiscate every radio in case a Commie rat may be receiving messages. So, like a good soldier/captain, he sends the necessary three digit number and letters to tell the planes to initiate it. The pilots are naturally skeptical, and seek confirmation. It is soon confirmed. 

The Colonel or Brigadier General is also in charge of the base and tells all of his main to put it under lockdown. “Shoot and then ask questions.”

The Joint Chiefs of Staff are woken and brought into the War Room. President Merkin Muffley tells a General’s men to besiege the command base to get the Colonel on the phone after they find out about his ploy. 

I know. This doesn’t sound like a comedy so far. Merkin Muffley is a balding good man, but he is concerned about his image. General Turgidson disagrees and suggests they put the full force of their military into the attack. Merkin Muffley is also played by Peter Sellers. That’s right. He’s playing TWO characters so far. A great actor, I have to say. If I hadn’t seen and confirmed it several times through Wikipedia, Youtube, and IMDB, I wouldn’t have believed it. 

Arguments soon break out. They bring in the right hand man of the Ambassador of Russia (who is drunk) into the War Room. He tells them of the Doomsday Device which utilizes radiation that could last for 92 years. If Russia is attacked, he says, it will trigger. And it cannot be un-triggered. The President confirms this with Dr. Strangelove, a German scientist who has Nazi sympathies, who is also played by Peter Sellers. The man is like Alex Mercer in Prototype. He can transform into anyone. What I like most about the movie is I can tell you the plot, and it comes off as both very serious in tone, and then very ridiculous after you hear about the Doomsday device.

It’s the dialogue that puts this story at the top. It’s rich, natural, and hilarious. This movie can be serious, and it can be hilarious. Rest assured, though, that everything said most likely has a deeper meaning. If you’re familiar with the politics during those times, you’d probably be laughing the entire movie.

But I’m not familiar with the politics, yet I found myself laughing throughout the movie. That’s amazing. Timeless. The ability of a movie that is over 40 years old to make someone of my age laugh… Is just amazing. I give this movie a 9.9/10. 

Why not 10/10. I’m still in post-Strangelove state, so I may not be in my right mind. I’m going to re-watch this, and then either change the rating to 10/10 or knock it down just one peg. But, it is still a great movie.

The movie is in black and white, I think I’ve said, and it may be timeless for me, but some of you people may find this disturbing. A black and white movie can be alien after watching a CGI heavy movie like… The Avengers, Captain America, or even Dredd.

So, do not go in expecting some groundbreaking graphics. Go in expecting funny dialogue, rich characters, and Peter Sellers playing a Brit, an American, and a German. That, in itself, is funny.