Captain America: The Winter Soldier, directed by Joe and Anthony Russo, starring Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson and Anthony Mackie, brought to you by the power vested in me by the great state of Wyoming 

While I will surprise approximately no one by saying that the action in this movie was nowhere near as inventive and exciting as the violence that gives The Raid 2 its reason to exist, this movie still confounded my expectations by impressing me more with competence than raw thrillpower.

A lot of people feel differently, of course.

Iron Man 3
Dir. by Kiss Kiss, starring Bang Bang, written by the pretty drones of north america

It’s important to remember that everything that happens in this film takes place while Tony Stark is trapped in the wormhole in The Avengers.  All of that talk about demons in the opening voice-over?   Not metaphorical.   This is the story of a man whose self has been shattered, trying to work out which shards to save and which ones to cast away.  That’s why none of the characters feel real, except from Tony – they’re all figments, fragments of his essence, their nature and actions defined purely by the gaps in his form.

Having touched heaven, Our Hero sees the way back down to Earth, and realises that it’s angels and demons all the way down:

The kid represents true self love, while Pepper represents tough self love, and having embraced these twin fictions and annihilated his monstrous reflections Stark is free to imagine himself to be healed.

The movie?   Oh, it’s a decent enough post-Iron Man action movie, better than the second film, probably just about as good as the first, and if you find yourself wondering how a movie that gleefully burlesques the absurdity of The War Against Terror (lol TWAT!  lol foreigns!   shout outs to Ben Kingsley!) can also rel on the redemptive power of drones for its ending, just watch old Droney Starks as he swans off into the sunset, wrapped in his latest and most impressive invention – a suit of armour made out of a microscopically thin layer of lies.  That should tell you everything you need to know.

Much Ado About Nothing

Dir. by Captain America, starring your special friends, adapted for the screen by the reanimated head of William Shakespeare

Joss Whedon and co’s Much Ado About Nothing is a goofy, enjoyable movie that’s made just that little big bit sexier by the absence of what you might call Mouse Muscle.  Don’t get me wrong, Whedon organised all of the Mouse Muscle at his disposal well in The Avengers – he even managed to keep yon blockheeded cock who plays Hawkeye out the way for the most part! - but it was always clear who and what was being serviced.

The priorities are different in Much Ado About Nothing, a luxurious indulgence in which Whedon services the script, cast and audience equally.  One of those is you, and another is yours, if you want it to be, and it’s hard not to be flattered in such generous company, but let’s not act like everyone has access to the friends and production values that Whedon makes use of here because the lush setting gives lie to that notion.  Whedon’s house is big, and the shadows it casts are long and dark, so by filling this setting with crisp suits and gun holsters and presenting it in black and white, Whedon successfully dresses up this screwball romance in noir clothing.

Amy Acker’s Beatrice is the main draw here, though Fran Kranz deserves props for managing to make top creeper Claudio’s sudden swings from infatuation to rage seem like the product of a genuine (if unstable) consciousness, and the duo of Tom Lenk and Nathon Fillion deliver the shaky comedy double act of Dogberry and Verges with admirably steady hands.  This story is still Beatrice’s if it’s anyone’s though, and Acker plays her like someone whose “merry” manner is a tightrope, a thin line of barbed jibes from which she cannot imagine herself departing. It’s her role to poke fun at the conventions of the compound she lives in, and also to make the violence that underwrites her existence obvious, to draw it back into the foreground when she feels her cousin wronged.  Alexis Denisof’s Benedict might make the transition from striking hero to total goof in record time, but note how quick he is to agree to violence when Beatrice demands it of him and try to remember that this is a movie about what spooks do on their time off.

Of course, having made it explicit that she lives in a world full of merry killers (a grand house that, like this whole project, has been made possible by the brute force of The Mouse and The Fox and other such creatures) Beatrice then allows herself to be tricked into a happy ending.

Ask yourself, in all honesty: would you do any less?

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