4th of July Music Break: Captain America End Title Sequence

Happy Fourth of July to my American friends!

Hope you get today’s off from work and get to spend sometime celebratin’ Independence Day. Do you watch certain movies for the Fourth? Something with a patriotic theme perhaps? Well, instead of featuring one of those movies like I did last year, I figure why not do a music break instead?

The one thing that immediately spring to mind is this awesome retro end-credits war-propaganda sequence for Captain America. One certainly doesn’t get more patriotic than that guy, right? I mean his entire outfit is the American flag! 😀

The rousing, old-school music by Alan Silvestri fits perfectly for the tone of this film. It’s brimming with enthusiasm, valor and everything Steve Rogers stood for and aspire to be. It’s also one of those iconic theme you can easily hum to and almost adds a certain spring in your step as you hum it, too.

That end credits sequence is certainly one of the best I’ve ever seen and it was such a wonderful complement to the movie. The Art of the Title did a feature of it and interviewed the creative director, Steve Viola, from Method Design (formerly Rock!it Studio) hired by Marvel. He mentioned that director Joe Johnston, who began his career as a concept designer and art director himself, was heavily involved in the process. Even producer Kevin Feige was involved in selecting the war propaganda posters to use in the sequence.

Hope you enjoy the music and video! Now tell me, what’s YOUR favorite movie opening/end credits sequence?

FlixChatter Review – Captain America: The First Avenger

This review is courtesy of Ivan Maramis… a.k.a. ze blogger’s hubby 😀

When it was first announced that Captain America would be made into the big screen, I thought it was such a preposterous proposition. I know of the comic and am familiar enough to sum it up in a :30 second elevator pitch, but never really read the comics growing up. Seriously… the name, the costume — those two alone should be enough to scare sane movie-makers away from even thinking about coming up with a decent plot. And if the previous attempts are any indication, they should pretty much forget about it.Yet as initial promos/trailers were released, the movie actually looked… promising. And guess what, the final product doesn’t disappoint, either.

Here’s the plot summary taken from the official site:
Captain America: The First Avenger will focus on the early days of the Marvel Universe when Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) volunteers to participate in an experimental program that turns him into the Super Soldier known as Captain America. As Captain America, Rogers joins forces with Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) and Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) to wage war on the evil HYDRA organization, led by the villainous Red Skull (Hugo Weaving.)
The first thing I noticed was how the movie look resembles that of the Indiana Jones series — and that’s never a bad thing. The sepia tones and the softer, muted color rendition give a stylistic retro feel to the 1940s setting. This shouldn’t come as a surprise when you consider that director Joe Johnson directed the similarly-fashioned The Rocketeer, and was also the visual supervisor for Raiders of the Lost Ark. But incorporating this retro look to a superhero genre is especially refreshing considering most major superhero comics were written in the 40s – 60s.

There is nothing extraordinary about the story, especially if you judge it just as another “superhero” movie. It’s an origin story of our protagonist evolving from a scrawny frail guy into a government-approved-steroid-injected dude. Throw in a megalomaniac villain to fist fight with, add some humor and a pinch of love interest in the mix, and you get a pretty safe (possibly bland) formula for a superhero movie. It’s a simple good vs. evil plot. And that’s not necessarily a bad approach. This is the era where politics was much more black and white than it is today, and you know you just have beat the Nazis to win the war.

Steve Rogers... the amazing transformation

Chris Evans gives a believable portrayal as an earnest guy with a pure heart who simply want to serve and protect the country. You sympathize with the character right away, in the same way that Dr Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci) discovered him to be the perfect candidate to receive the super soldier serum. But soon after Rogers got his instant body-building look, the experiment facility was burnt down by one of the Red Skull’s men (played briefly by Richard Armitage).
Realizing that Rogers is such an expensive asset to risk in a war, the government instead use him as a celebrity mascot performing in USO tours to entertain the American troops in Europe. He’s given the costume that’s pretty much an American flag wrapped around his body, with a stage name Captain America. Die hard comic fans will immediately recognize that his stage costume IS the classic Captain America suit depicted in the comic.

Remember what I said earlier about the two things that could potentially break this movie? The name and costume were half of the major issue in bringing this character to life in a believable way. But Johnston and his team solve the problem brilliantly by making our good ole’ star spangled Cap attire originated from a campy stage show. It gives a witty nod to the comic, but it also creates a sensible transition as to how Steve Rogers get to keep his identity as the Cap, and eventually wear his stage-inspired but a more practical combat suit. He also got an improved & battle-ready shield, thanks to the brilliant inventor Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper).
Comic fans or not, you might ask why use shield as a weapon of choice? There was a scene earlier in the movie (pre-serum) when Dr. Erskine asked Steve if he is ready to go and kill some Nazis. And Steve responded by saying, “I don’t want to kill anybody. I just don’t like bullies…” Shield is primarily a device to defend and protect, though in more than occasion it served as more than combat armor. It reinforces Steve’s genuine desire to protect the weaklings now that he’s been transformed into a super soldier.

It's not easy being red ...

Hugo Weaving brings in a solid portrayal as the Red Skull. It’s not quite the same caliber as Heath Ledger’s Oscar-winning the Joker where he nearly overpowered the film, but Weaving infuses enough authority, pompousness and deranged sensibility to the character (sans the over-dramatic maniacal laugh). I was afraid that his Agent Smith voice from The Matrix would echo heavily here, but his voice actually sounds quite different and his German accent is not over the top or pretentious. Weaving is the epitome of a charismatic leader — whether playing a good guy, or in this case, a bad one.
The rest of the cast are commendable as well. Atwell’s Peggy Carter brings in a more authoritative and no-nonsense female figure, a refreshing take when compared to the typically-expected damsel in distress. Her relationship with Steve Rogers is convincingly sweet — there’s an palpable chemistry between them yet they it doesn’t move too fast to make it corny. And I can’t ask for a better actor to play Colonel Chester Phillips than Tommy Lee Jones. He’s got the look, the grit and the sarcastic wit and his scenes offer plenty of comic relief. Sebastian Stan’s role as Bucky may be a supporting one, but it plays a critical part in shaping Steve Rogers to become the person that he is. Thus, while the performances perhaps won’t win any major award, the casts work nicely as a strong unit.
Captain America: The First Avengers may not be as mind-bending as the The Dark Knight, but it delivers a satisfying and entertaining fare in the vein of Indiana Jones. The action scenes are engaging enough even without 3D — it’s absolutely unnecessary so if you haven’t seen it, might as well save your money and see it in 2D. Be sure to stay until after the credits to see some special treats from Marvel!
Closing thoughts: The movie is patriotic without being preachy nor overly political, encouraging without being overbearing. It’s simply a good, clean entertainment with a message that the basic trait of a true hero is his or her heart.
4 out of 5 reels

Well, has any of you got a chance to see this movie? I’d love to hear what you think.

Poster of the Week: Captain America retro poster

Oooh, lookie here! Thanks to my friend ScarletSp1der for the tip on the 15 Questions Meme post. I LOVE this retro poster! It’s perfectly suited for the WWII era the movie is set in. I’m surprised this doesn’t open in the Fourth of July weekend here in the US (its release date is July 22), considering how patriotic the movie is, exemplifying a hero’s valor and courage to fight against evil. For those who read the comics will undoubtedly recognize the inspiration from this comic book cover.

The poster was designed by comic book artist Paolo Rivera (visit his blog)

Typically I don’t like posters that have too much going on, especially those with FHS (floating heads syndrome) like most posters are these days. But regardless of how busy it is, I think it works here and your eye still focus on the main action element of the poster of our valiant hero punching the heck out of Hitler. Chris Evans kinda looks like a young Cary Elwes in this poster, don’t you think?

Speaking of Joe Johnston, my favorite movie of his is The Rocketeer as you probably know (especially in regards to the villain). I really like this retro poster from that film which was set in the late 30s.

I gotta admit I’ve become increasingly more interested to see this movie, though I wasn’t as excited about it before. I’ve never read the comics and I sort of thought the story is pretty cheesy. But I’m looking forward to it now. I think the retro look is a huge appeal for me, and I am a big fan of the actors in the villain roles: Hugo Weaving as Red Skull and Richard Armitage as Nazi officer Heinz Krueger.

What do you think of the poster? Are you psyched about Capt. America?

Friday the 13th Birthday Tributes: Samanta Morton, Joe Johnston and Rob Pattinson

Happy Friday the 13th all!

A few of my upcoming posts are taking longer than usual, but no fret, in the meantime, we’ve got some film folks’ birthdays to celebrate. So to mark the occasion, I pick a scene from one of the films in their resume that I think are memorable.

Samantha Morton turns 34

Miss Morton might not be a household name, but chances are you’ve seen at least one or two of her stellar work. The English actress was nominated for an Oscar for her performance in Woody Allen’s Sweet and Low Down and she was fantastic in Jim Sheridan’s In America, about an Irish immigrant family adjusting to life in the United States. But one of her most memorable roles to me was in Steven Spielberg’s neo-noir sci-fi thriller Minority Report as the precog Agatha who ends up helping Tom Cruise’s John Anderton escape the Precrime team. This mall chase scene, especially right as the balloons show up, is by far one of the coolest scenes from the movie:

Joe Johnston turns 61

The Texan-born director isn’t what you would call prolific as he’s only got 11 titles under his belt. But this year is a big one for him with the release of Captain America this July. The look of the Marvel superhero flick is a throwback to an action adventure flick he did in 1991, The Rocketeer. It’s such an under-appreciated film that just celebrated its 20th anniversary recently with a special re-release event in L.A. attended by the cast and crew! (see info on Hero Complex) I wish I had been able to attend that and see it on the big screen once again. I highly recommend it if you haven’t already. Check out the trailer below:

Robert Pattinson turns 25

The massively popular Twilight star now can legally rent a car on his own 😀 Now, don’t worry, I’m not gonna post a clip of him all pale and sparkly. To his credit, I think he’s a pretty talented guy if you’re willing to get past his emo-vampire character and actually watch him in something else. I did that with Remember Me and thought he did a decent job shedding his Edward persona, and proves to be quite a versatile actor. There’s not exactly a memorable clip from that movie though (well other than the ending but I don’t want to spoil the film for you), so I choose this one from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the only HP movie Pattinson’s character Cedric Diggory appears in. His character’s tragic demise at the hand of Voldemort is certainly one of the most memorable scenes in the whole franchise.

So happy happy birthday, Samantha, Joe and R-Patz!

Please feel free to add your own well-wishes to the b’day folks in the comments below.

Flix Character Spotlight: Neville Sinclair – The Rocketeer

A couple of days ago, I saw Jennifer Connelly in the red carpet of The Tourist premiere with her husband Paul Bettany. As you can see in the poster, Connelly and Timothy Dalton co-starred in The Rocketeer back in 1991, and now her husband is co-starring with Dalton in The Tourist.

It turns out this post has been in my draft folder since August, around the time when I read this Hero Complex blog post back in August titled The Rocketeer’ — a retro adventure that was ahead of its time. Apparently a theater in L.A. was hosting a special month-long Disney screening series at the time. Oh, how I wish I could’ve seen this one on the big screen.

I remember seeing The Rocketeer with my older brother when I was in high school. It had everything you could possibly want in a movie: comic-book style action adventure, espionage, romance and cool visuals. Based on a graphic novel, the story takes place in a few years prior to WWII in 1938 and focuses on a young stunt pilot Cliff, who stumbles onto a prototype jet-pack that allows him to become a high flying masked hero dubbed The Rocketeer. Of course things starts to go awry when the Nazis want the device for their evil plans.


Well, one of the best things about the movie is undoubtedly the deliciously charming baddie, Neville Sinclair. He is Howard Hughes meets Errol Flyn meets James Bond… played to perfection by Dalton. It’s hard not to swoon for his suave and sexy portrayal, in fact, he’s the one I couldn’t take my eyes off. This is a text-book example of a supporting character completely overshadowing the protagonist, played by boyish Billy Campbell. The Hero Complex article aptly described him as ‘sly and rakish’… and Shakespearean actor used that debonair sensibilities to the max in trying to seduce Cliff’s girlfriend, the aspiring actress Jenny (Connelly).

Director Joe Johnston (who’s currently working on Captain America) made a perfect casting choice in Dalton. I can’t imagine anyone else playing the role of a Nazi spy disguised as a swashbuckling movie star, inspired by the real actor Errol Flynn (apparently, an authorized biography of the classic actor painted him as a Nazi sympathizer – per Wikipedia). Sinclair is right up there with Alan Rickman‘s Hans Gruber as my favorite villains of all time.

Take a look below of a couple of clips from the movie. If you haven’t seen this one, it’s definitely worth a rental! Need more proof? Read Marc’s full review at GoSeeTalk.com.