Having given us movies such as Alien and Gladiator, there is a certain amount of excitement and expectation that typically surrounds a Ridley Scott production. With a recent output that consists of Exodus: Gods and Kings, The Counsellor, and Prometheus, those expectations have not been merited or met. Thankfully the director is back on form with The Martian, a fun and smart sci-fi which will have you laughing more than most comedies.
Where Captain America: The First Avenger was an efficient if slightly underwhelming piece of superhero entertainment, the star-spangled hero’s second solo outing helmed by Community’s Anthony and Joe Russo is an altogether different beast; multi-layered and action-packed, it’s Marvel’s best standalone film yet and easily the best representation of the character on screen thus far.
While Thor returned to Asgard and Tony Stark retreated to his armoury, Steve Rogers aka Captain America (Chris Evans) has been working for S.H.I.E.L.D since the events of New York whilst trying to acclimate to the modern world. When a colleague comes under attack and conspiracy is suspected, Steve goes rogue and teams up with Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) in a bid to expose the corruption, a mission made more difficult when an old friend from his past re-emerges as a formidable adversary – the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan).
Marvel are on something of a roll at this moment in time. With Joss Whedon’s Avengers Assemble (2012) and Shane Black’s riotous Iron Man 3 (2013) both crossing the billion dollar mark at the global box office, it’s clear that their colourful superhero blockbusters have struck a tone with not only comic book fans, but uninformed audiences as well. There’s a good chance that Alan Taylor’s Thor: The Dark World (2013) will continue the strong start to Marvel’s ‘Phase Two’ when it hits UK cinemas next week (you can read my review here), and smartly the studio has also seen fit to reveal the first trailer for Anthony and Joe Russo’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) online this week to ride on the current wave of goodwill.