Wednesday 31 August 2011

Shu of the South Star White Heron Fist - what will you witness in the end of this century!?

The World Is Not Enough is a good spy caper, but a rubbish Bond film. It's too much about Bond's feelings rather than Bond's doings, and for some reason drags M into the emo nonsense. The action scenes feel a little flat this time around, too, and the best indicator that things aren't firing on all cylinders is probably that the story is about someone restoring the power and influence of their feudal-era heritage and the name of the movie is the Bond family motto (as established in On Her Majesty's Secret Service), yet while these two elements could be organically worked into a conversation to drop the name of the film into the actual script, instead we get Bond simply saying that "the world is not enough" of a payoff to convince him to turn traitor. Oh, and this scene takes place in the city of Istanbul, which lies in lands conquered by Alexander the Great whose epitaph reads "A tomb now suffices him for whom the world was not enough." i think they could have worked something in there given a few minutes of thought, but what's done is done. It's okay, but forgettable.
I didn't think much of Die Another Day at the time thanks largely to negative word of mouth and a damnably awful Madonna theme that I got stuck listening to at work far too often and couldn't face having to sit through without access to a fast forward button, so DAD became the first Bond film I never saw in the cinema. Time has not revised the opinion I formed upon viewing it on local telly when it finally appeared - it's dumb in a bad way. The CGI doesn't help things too much, either, though I'll concede that there's only so many ways to realise someone out-surfing an orbital death laser and none of them are particularly convincing as visuals, probably. Hally Berry is a bit lifeless as Jinx, and Rosamund Pike's not great either, though there's probably few people alive that can give a good reading to lines like "It really is DEATH FOR BREAKFAST!" The villain needing a Power Ranger armor upgrade is also a bit weak as a conceit given he's portrayed from his first appearance as a deadly martial artist and marksman, but I guess what's one more crazy notion on top of invisible cars and orbital death rays? The escape from the burning plane is really badly done, too, but what sticks out is that yet again it's a 'Bond seeks revenge" tale when that's not only been done to death in the franchise already, it's always ended in the same way - Bond knowing revenge gains him nothing. And yet he goes after it yet again? No sale.
It passed the time, I guess, but it's a lacklustre final outing for the character given Casino Royale was a reboot.

Tuesday 30 August 2011

While you were gone, the Globetrotters held a press conference informing everyone that I was a jive sucker.

I was really surprised how much I enjoyed the utterly daffy Octopussy, and also the rather unloved View to a Kill, which has some good moments, particularly Christopher Walken's scenery-chewing and the fire truck chase with nearly-sixty Roger Moore doing great but obviously finding the going tough enough that he retired from the role.
The Living Daylights and Licence To Kill represent the much-unloved Timothy Dalton's take on Bond and are both good entries in the series, but Dalton's playing the role closer to the source material alienated many of those brought up on the movie Bond. He's actually pretty great in the role, however, particularly in Licence To Kill where I'm convinced the way he plays it reveals a massive double-bluff being played on the audience with the whole "Bond is out for revenge!" premise, as Dalton's Bond deliberately harks back to the murder of Bond's own wife to forshadow why the character would feel the need for revenge against Robert Davi's Sanchez when regular Bond action-buddy Felix is grievously wounded and unable to exact revenge himself for the death of his bride on their wedding day, yet Bond always found revenge against Blofeld unfulfilling and his quest here thus seems rather unlikely as anything other than a massive ploy to put him in front of his target with a background as an "ex-secret service agent" as the perfect cover, with the added bonus of deniability if the yanks ever come sniffing around wondering why this uppity limey is sticking his nose in their business.
I recall Goldeneye being a lot better than it actually is, though perhaps this was relief at the time that Bond wasn't outdated by the collapse of the Soviet Union as many had suggested, even though the Soviets were never the direct threat in any of the Bond films - even in Goldeneye the true villains are a rogue general and MI6 agent. I also don't quite get what's happening in the pre-credits bit where the general has Bean's character at gunpoint and Bond is in the process of peacefully surrendering when the general shoots Bean so Bond goes back behind cover and the general demands he come out despite the fact he's just shot his only bargaining tool while his demands were being met, and Bean's character we know is a traitor in cahoots with the general who's just shot him, so what is going on there? Do they actually want Bond to escape and tell the world Bean's character is dead? I just didn't follow the plan at all.
There's some great bits like the St Petersburg tank/car chase, but the bit where the Mig crashes into the satellite dish looks like someone's thrown one toy at another. Famke Jansen's Xenia Onatopp is a great turn, and Bean's alright, but plays it too smarmy to be convincing as a threat even though the scraps with him and Bond are brief and brutal.
Tomorrow Never Dies was pretty great, with good action sequences like the motorbike/helicopter chase and pre-credits sequence, but Michelle Yeoh disappoints with the laughably incompetent Wei Lin, who sets off alarms and gets captured by villains with a regrettable ease that undermines her action girl credibility even more than her lacklustre solo fight scene that isn't a patch on what Yeoh's done in her Hong Kong-based film career in flicks like Heroic trio and Police Story 3. The villain is also a bit weak, but at least his motivation - while daffy - is pretty original.

Wednesday 24 August 2011

I shall reject love - for I bear the cursed star of death!

Only getting around to today's Bond movie now, For Your Eyes Only, and I'm a bit baffled by the callback to On Her Majesty's Secret Service in the pre-credits sequence, but like the idea that every year on the anniversary of his wife's death Bond kills the man responsible all over again like a little ritual, and that through this they're acknowledging that Bond is an agent getting on in years - Moore was 45 when he started playing the role. Only 20-odd minutes in so far and I can see they're setting up the whole "revenge is hollow" plot, but it seems a bit odd to be coming from Moore's Bond less than half an hour after he looked really pleased with himself about getting revenge on a cripple by murdering him unnecessarily, but I'll probably like this one as I love Moore enough to even overlook the fact that he's a Tory.

Tuesday 23 August 2011

Tremble as you sleep, villains in the Valley of Night Fog!

Still watching my way chronologically through the Bond series, and of You Only Live twice I have vague memories of the film igniting a fascination with Japan that still endures, and Kissy Suzuki is one hot tamale. I love how Bond undergoes advanced Japanese surgical techniques to make him look Japanese and at the end comes out looking exactly the same except for a bowl haircut. Also, from this point in the series, Bond is officially a ninja.
On Her majesty's Secret Service - my main issue with this is only that it's too long. It's a bit Austin Powers in Bond's dress and he seems to have achieved a lot of fame for a "secret" agent, but there's a great bobsleigh chase - because obviously if you have to escape a mountain a bobsleigh is your first choice of vehicle - and Diana Rigg is good, especially when she's threatened by a nameless thug and tries to slice his face off with a broken bottle before pulling him through a wall, or when she looks less than bothered to have driven her car into a stock car race. Neat pre-credits sequence, too.
Diamonds Are Forever - upping the slapstick a bit too much, there's also no getting away from the odd plot point of Bond working in the interests of South African diamond miners circa the mid-70s. A couple of potentially great setpieces (Bambi/Thumper and the oil rig assault) are wasted with pedestrian direction and editing. Nice Moon Buggy chase.
Live and Let Die - great for all the wrong reasons, especially Bond smoking a cigar while hang gliding and lines like "great disguise you got there - a white face in Harlem" and "I saw those cards on the way up - spades, James." not helping things. It's also pretty low-tech until about fifteen minutes from the end when Bond just stumbles into a secret underground base complete with shark tank and bullet train. And "Pimpmobile" is an actual make of car according to the CIA. Which is fantastic.
The Man With The Golden Gun - Christopher Lee! My only memory of this one is of the little person Nick Nack, the breathtaking scenery of "China" - which is apparently actually Thailand - and Christopher Lee voicing Scaramanga in the game Goldeneye: Rogue Agent as a dark alternate to Q, providing your anti-Bond super-assassin with his fancy gadgets so he can track down and kill Pussy Galore and Dr No and the like for SPECTRE. The film is a little different from the usual Bond as it's basically about him versus the world's greatest assassin, and although there's some international intrigue shoehorned in with a super-efficient solar conversion cell that will change the world somehow, I didn't like it much despite all the good stuff like Britt Ekland looking great, a pretty good car stunt and Bond fighting a little person as it's basically a couple of great moments in a still-overlong outing.
The Spy Who Loved Me - held up as the greatest film of all time by Alan Partridge, this is probably not that. It features some pretty memorable moments like the first appearance of Jaws and a car so fantastic it could only be better if it was a robot and made of money, but from here things get a bit outrageous for the franchise for better or worse. Great model work (remember that before CGI came along?) and a daffy plot that seems more at home in a pastiche of Bond than in an actual Bond film make for a memorable outing, though.
Moonraker takes things to illogical heights with US marines making an assault on an orbital space station, but I remember this being up there with Star Wars when I were a nipper - then I remember that I wasn't really that into Star Wars and this is no recommendation at all. Still good fun, but Bond driving a hovercraft gondola around Venice complete with funny-noises double-takes from disbelieving pigeons is a bit too far into parody territory even if Moore admirably plays the whole thing deadly serious. The villain is a bit boring and the whole thing is far too long for my liking, but as badly dated sci-fi matinees go this one's still pretty watchable.

Friday 19 August 2011

I'm going to explain to you what most boys your age... have known for like five years already.

Goldfinger is usually held up as the standard for Bond movies, but to be honest, I've never been much of a fan, probably because I saw it long after I'd seen Moonraker, where Bond goes into space and attempts re-entry after a space-ruckus because the US has platoons of laser-toting space-marines waiting around on launchpads just in case. In the context of a progression from the first two outings, however, I can see why it's so fondly thought of given the introduction of so much of the Bond filmic canon that originates here, from the crazy death traps, dry one-liners, the momentary softening of the 007 facade of steel-hard British assassin when faced with the deaths of innocents (usually one of a parade of women he sees as little more than a means to an end), right up to the outrageous setpieces, outlandish gadgets, the first appearance of Q Branch proper, and honest-to-goodness supervillain schemes so damn crazy even Bond is taken aback by the audacity. Context is everything where Goldfinger is concerned, but while it's enjoyable as a period piece I still have one or two niggles, mainly what the point was with the exposition scene where Goldfinger tells everyone what his Fort Knox scheme is all about, then kills everyone he's just told the plan to. So why bother telling them? There's a bit where one of the assembled mobsters backs out of the scheme and Goldfinger lets him go, gives him gold, has him shot, then crushed in a car crusher, then goes off to separate his gold from the crushed car/mobster and I couldn't understand why he didn't just have his manservant Blojob grab the gold and leave the car/mobster thing in the scrapyard. Why create all that extra effort? Why tell so many people a different version of his master plan if he was just going to kill them anyway? Also, I'm pretty sure Bond saves the day by more or less raping some sense into Vagina Galore, plus this:

This is just asking for trouble.
Thunderball continues the Bond trend of being about supercriminal plans rather than animosity with the Soviets, making me wonder why anyone ever thought that the character was lost without the Cold War before Goldeneye came along. It's a decent espionage flick, but feels like a step back to the pre-Goldfinger model for the franchise, with the Bond gimmicks being bells hung on a story that could have got along just fine without gadgets and cabals of faceless supervillains. The underwater scraps are a nice change of pace for an action movie, too - I couldn't see the slow pace of such a thing going down well with the jump-cut and slo-mo-addicted directors of today, but there's a sort of madcap Tom and Jerry vibe to the two factions going at it underwater. Bond also seems to carry jetpacks around with him and then leave them on rooftops, but I suppose he knows what he's doing - he uses a woman as a human shield twice in this film, so he's clearly a man who can think ahead and on his toes. A decent period romp, this.

Thursday 18 August 2011

I should have told you never go in there without a mongoose

My main memories of From Russia With Love stem not from watching the film on bank holidays, or whatever the accepted cliche is associated with the consumption of Bond films from one's youth, but from playing the PS2 game that came out roughly 40 years after the film did, a development period that surely puts Duke Nukem Forever to shame. Anyhoo, I didn't think much of the film, but it did at least have the absence of Natasha Bedingfield in the cast in its favor. It suffers from the same kind of problems as Dr No in that it's more the travelog of a dapper thug as he stumbles from one fight to another in exotic locales than it is the depiction of an espionage agent, with the better setpieces like the gypsy camp attack and embassy robbery up front leaving the film to end with oddly unsatisfying action sequences like Bond throttling a man on a train or having a fistfight with an elderly woman. The pacing is very stop/start and I'm pretty sure they meant to make a bit more of Bond's signposting that he'd "never turn my back on a woman again", but I guess it were simpler times back then and they'd only just invented colour and that and Chekov's Gun was a bit much of an ask.
I did like a lot of it, though, especially the gypsy riot where Bond is just running about killing the hell out of people and then gets given two women to shag, as one does. I also found the line "she should have kept her mouth shut" unintentionally amusing as I remembered that behind Charlie Sheen and Stone Cold, Sean Connery is easily my third favorite drunken spouse-batterer.

Wednesday 17 August 2011

You have succeeded in exposing my sinister plan to lock myself in a dungeon, chained to an albino.

I don't rate Sean Connery's version of James Bond much. I grew up with the politically incorrect outre-camp of the Moore Bonds and have always viewed the Connery outings as the adventures of a particularly well-dressed and punctual hooligan abroad, nonetheless I've resolved to watch all the Bonds in order and began with Dr NO this very evening, in which suave ladies man James Bond murders a cripple in his own home (in fairness, it's not called a Licence To Investigate) and then heroically causes a nuclear meltdown in the Caribbean that dozens of innocent people jump to watery deaths to escape.
I am pretty sure it is not just me and Dr NO is actually a pretty unsatisfying film with poor internal logic, a lethargic pace and not much in the way of character arcs. Stuff just sort of happens, like Bond getting drugged by his captors for some reason, and then escaping through a water drainage pipe that inexplicably opens onto this hall people use all the time, and I'm pretty sure he's radioactive by the time he gets on that boat at the finale - this would explain the lack of James Bond Juniors running around, I guess.
The period it's set in does fascinate me, though, even though though it was set in the then-present of 1962. I mean, no mobile phones? The world must have seemed so huge.

Tuesday 16 August 2011

Now that yall know where I live yall better not try ta rob me or I will cut yo teeth out

Bloody Elvis hair. Should have known it would haunt me down the line when I had to draw actual things that are in the script like I'm told. Oh for the 90s and just drawing a splash panel/page and damning storytelling for the overhyped delusion of beardies like Alan Moore that it is.

Went to see Rise of the Planet of the Apes - decent flick, although science probably doesn't work like that.
Didn't like some of the stuff at the end like when the monkey talks even though he's only been given brain medicines and not jen-et-ik-ally man-ip-you-lay-ted to have vocal chords although I'm not a boffin and Malfoy's references to the original were a bit too forced, but it's entertaining as a bit of fluff. Them monkeys don't half hate glass windows, though, they smash through them like they'd seen Police Story too many times, and there's this bit where they're escaping the dog pound for monkeys and they're going out through open windows and they smash the fuck out of them anyway as they're going past, and then they run down the streets doing a Tottenham riots on San Fran and I'm thinking "this is why they locked you up, mate, if this is what you do when you're let out" so I can't really see the monkeys' point of view about wanting to not wear a dog monkey collar in public. And why is this virus that spreads by blood a problem? That's easily quarantined, not sure why it's an issue for humanity.
Entertaining, though.

Friday 12 August 2011

You're just part of everything that's happening tonight and it's all bad

There's just no point in doing things by halves, is there, Vista?

Thursday 11 August 2011

Aw hell naw, dawg - he's using my own metaphor against me!

For health reasons, I'm on a diet that excludes alcohol and replaces it with lots of fresh fruit, and I can't say I'm enjoying it - at one point I thought I was having a panic attack because I have that much extra energy.

I miss being hungover at six in the evening, I miss that drink-induced feeling of "fuck it, I don't even care that it's Jeremy Kyle on telly right now, I CANNOT BE BOTHERED TO CHANGE THE CHANNEL" and let's be honest, that's how he's got his audience over the years and it'll be interesting to see how the Tottenham riots have impacted upon his figures because while it's a no-brainer that his entire audience of slack-jawed cider-swilling knuckle-dragging spouse-beating ram-raiders would be out looting, from the tv footage I can see they're all on the rob for bigger television sets, so the figures are kind of like Schrodinger's Cat if you think about it.

In years to come people will be saying Jeremy Kyle made them think about quantum science - between that and China being the new world superpower these are frightening times to be alive.

Wednesday 10 August 2011

don't get cocky, it's gonna get rocky, we gonna move down to the next ya jockey

No screen grabs today as I've been kicking it old school with paper and pencil (as one might phrase it WERE ONE A MORON), so I'm returning to my old habit of padding out the daily updates with any old tat I have laying about that hasn't appeared on this blog in particular just yet.
So here's some sketches I ran up for the Themed Art Blog, this week celebrating the 1980s action movie and leaving me literally spoiled for choice in terms of subject even though all the obvious candidates like predator, Aliens, Indiana Jones, Robocop and Big Trouble in Little China have already been covered, since there's still the Die Hards, American Ninjas, A Team... a great decade for action heroes, the 1980s, though the 90s was good too, while the less said about the 2000s and the rise of the music promo action sequence the better.
From top to bottom, the themes were Star Wars, Dinosaurs, and Exorcism.

Monday 8 August 2011

If I woke up looking like that, I'd walk towards the nearest living thing and kill it

I love you,Vista. Oh wait, I meant the other thing - GOD DAMN YOU TO HELL.

Strange symmetry is afoot in my 'toon watching this week as Futurama, Naruto and Thundercats all feature the same plot and I'm not sure which bit of signposting I liked better - Thundercats' obsessive sea captain shouting "for hate's sake I spit at thee!" or Futurama just calling this week's episode Mobius Dick and being done with any pretense at all.
I like Thundercats, although it's been only three episodes so far and some of the logic is baffling, but it's great to be able to point at cartoons nowadays and make serious observations about narrative techniques and use of themes rather than how utterly stupid something is even as an idea, and when you can point to individual episodes of something like Scooby Doo Mystery Incorporated as sub-par because it doesn't advance the series arc enough or is too continuity-heavy to work as an episode of tv in and of itself, it's almost enough to be able to admit in public that as a grown ass man I still watch cartoons. Almost. As anyone in the creative industries will tell you, the internet doesn't count.

Anyway, Thundercats is best described as Avatar: The Last Airbender meets Lord of the Rings, and as much as I enjoy it, there's something fishy about the royal lineage element of the backstory that strikes me as off and contrary to some of the character development in the first episodes. It's contrived in how it pushes characters together and doesn't quite work in isolation as it's clearly a reinvention aimed at those with knowledge of the previous version of the franchise, but at least it's nowhere near as heartbreakingly terrible and straight-up disturbing as that comic book reboot they had in the early 2000s, where Mumm Ra was keeping the two kid Thundercats as his personal sex slaves (and you can Google that shit - someone actually wrote it, got it approved by the Thundercats licensing bods, and then actually went out and published it). I sound negative, but this here cartoon is good fun that takes time to breathe before the fights break out, with slow pans over desolate vistas and an occasionally mournful soundtrack atypical of current animation and more like something that you'd expect to have been made in the 1980s when we all thought we were gonna die and got fixated on putting nuclear apocalypse allegories in almost everything. But time passes and Cold Wars end and left without topical allegory, Thundercats looks to the precedent set by Lord of the Rings' false history that never was approach and seems to be doing okay so far with it.

Friday 5 August 2011

Idle hands spend time at the genitals, and you know how much God hates that

Damn long shots (I'll never learn) - some texture and a good colouring will settle your hash...

Thursday 4 August 2011

You think you gonna live forever, but you won't. Someone'll kill ya. Someone'll kill ya with a knife.

As regards Love Bites, I suspect I may have brought the wrong chromosone to this pilot.

Her off Ugly Betty, playing more of a human being.

"Vampires would have a cold penis."

I like how the writer shorthands that this character is supposed to be an asshole by making her a vocal Battlestar Galactica fan.

Her off Eastwick. She likes dildos. Apparantly.

JJ Abrahms' man-wife. Was also in LA Noir.

I honestly cannot think of a single thing that I have seen that starred Jennifer Love Hewitt apart from this right here.

Mh. All's said and done, not a great hour of television, though it started well.

The last story just kind of dragged on forever and dulled the memory of the decent opening.

Seems an okay show.

yes I'm riding a unicorn - it was the only thing I could find

Scooby Doo: Mystery Incorporated is an answer to a question best posed by professional internet loudmouth Chris Sims as ""we all know these characters, but wouldn't it be great if they were in a show that was in any way watchable?" Mystery Inc is quite watchable, though for me this is likely to do with the constant stream of references to John Carpenter movies, from the team hanging out with the DJ from The Warriors to a soundtrack that sounds like something Carpenter would do himself to visual references to everything from the Fog to Christine to Ghosts of Mars.
At one point Fred -shortly before the team in typical Scooby Doo fashion splits into two groups comprised of Shaggy, Velma and Scoob in one, and Fred and Daphne in the other - delivers the line "I could really go for a salty clam right about now" while looking deep into Daphne's eyes and I am not sure if it's deliberate...
This probably tells you all you need to know about the show - it's smarter than it needs to be, just self-aware enough not to let it get in the way of being it's own show rather than the 11th incarnation of something first made in the 1970s, and I watched pretty much all of it over the space of four days because it was genuinely the only thing I wanted to sit down and watch at the time.

Tuesday 2 August 2011

I can find a block of Phillipine cooking shows but no Liverpool kick off

Tweet-blogging time again as I play catch-up on the stockpile of new shows I have accrued during my downtime:

Come on Franklin and Bash - please do not be shit.


Someone has seen the Defenders. I wonder if they know it got cancelled after one season.

Although I liked the Defenders. Despite the crippling drawback of having Jerry O'Connell in it.

Defenders had an episode where Jim Belushi defended a bear in court. Big shoes to fill, Franklin and Bash. Big shoes.

Malcolm McDowell! Yay!

This is alright, but I can see these two leads becoming tiresome very quickly.

A Clockwork Orange movie poster is on the wall of the main characters' home? But Malcolm Mc Dowell's in the cast! This is blowing my mind!

McDowell is amusing in this - probably the best thing in it - but I suspect he's given up on his career.

Holy shit, is this a real building or really good CGI?


Yeah, that was alright. Some gratuitous tits, but I'm not really offended by those, so I thought this was alright. A decent replacement for the Defenders, but just as fluffy and inconsequential.

I know nothing about Necessary Roughness beyond that it is not based on the movie from the 1990s that was the last thing in which Scott Bakula was appropriately cast.

Fuck, but he was hopeless in Enterprise. Note to Star Trek producers: "affable" is not the same thing as "charismatic".

I recognise this woman as the actress I keep confusing with Marisa Tomei, and there's symmetry for you, as she was a topic of discussion in Franklin and Bash.

Hmmm... not sure I'm fussed about the premise that seems to be rearing its head so far.

"I will cure you - OR ARE YOU CURING ME?"

I'm really not feeling it.

I'm not sure who the audience for this show is supposed to be. Teens? Menopausal women? Sports fans?

It has disparate elements but no focus or agenda. It's everywhere and too predictable. Not sure I'll bother with the second episode.

Ah who am I kidding? I haven't shouted at the telly once, so I'll probably watch the next one, but so far it's not that it's bad as much as it is uninteresting. A criticism that would mean more coming from anywhere but my blog.

Monday 1 August 2011

the local hep cats are gonna dig this crazy joint

There's a complaint leveled at the superhero concept that it detracts from heroism that occurs in the real world, and while that's a complaint that I can certainly understand in the context of a genre which typically operates in extremes, it's not one I necessarily agree with in blanket terms (1) given that superheroes are both aspirational ideals and fictional characters who do actually have to be doing something on the page or screen to keep punters' interest from flagging - Superman can't refrain from blowing out forest fires because it detracts from the sterling public service provided by firefighters, for instance, Batman can't refrain from administering CPR to a junkie because it might detract from the credit due paramedics, Spider-Man can't refrain from stopping a mugging because it might make cops look bad, and so on. The superhero needs to DO stuff, preferably good and worthy deeds rather than a constant and interminable battle of wits with colourful terrorist masterminds as seems to be the norm of late in most of my funnybooks, and I don't blame writers for resorting to theatrical heroics to help tell us character A is a good egg for whom we should be cheering. Nonetheless, Captain America: The First Avenger is a movie about a guy who wears a flag and fights Nazis around the time they were just getting it in their heads that the answer to the Jewish Question was pretty much what they did at Babi Yar only in a more efficient manner - some sort of camp perhaps? - and making a film about someone calling themselves Captain America was already going to be a tough sell (certainly in a day and age when comics publishers and movie makers can't even bring themselves to use "and the American Way" in any project involving Superman despite it being a pop cultural idiom at this stage devoid of political meaning to anyone but those trying to strike a pose as a concerned liberal) before you got to that no-one in their right mind, no-one with an ounce of sensitivity or common decency would make a superhero movie where the main character battles against a background of concentration camps and industrialised genocide (well, maybe the writers of X-Men: First Class, but the Nazis would probably be the good guys in that script), and Captain America does at least avoid this pitfall, firstly by having the action start before the Nazis cottoned onto using camps, then advancing the action to a separate WW2 battlefront of laser cannons and hulking steampunk robo-men far away from the horrible truth of what went on circa 1943 and Cap's final battle with Hugo Weaving's mincing leather-clad panto-queen Red Skull.
Captain America as a movie and as a character is sidelined from the real war and instead fights a dieselpunk version of it where he can dress like a tranny on the frontlines and jump towards the screen while things explode behind him like the 1990s John Woo visual trope love-in never ended and we can sit like morons lapping it up to our heart's content. This here is a stoopid fillum, but by not treading on the toes of history or whizzing on the graves of those who gave their lives and those who had them taken, it's not a heartless one, and I think it deserves props for that just as much as it deserves criticism for not having any story arc for the main character beyond "was bullied, now isn't", which happens at least twice across the film, first when puny Earthman Steve Rogers is bullied for being puny until he gets some steroids that make him able to beat up who he pleases, and then again when he's despised as an all mounth no trousers showboat propaganda tool by the real soldiers of the WW2 front in much the same way real Vietnam soldiers despised John Wayne for making Green Berets (according to Oliver Stone), right up until Steve - bafflingly still garbed in his primarily-coloured show outfit - disobeys orders and goes behind enemy lines to free those same soldiers who despise him from captivity. That's about it for character arcs, really, with even the death of his closest friend seeming to be rather loophole-friendly for those familiar with the fate of Bucky Barnes from the Captain America comics of recent years and not actually adding much to any kind of grand theme beyond that chaps die in war.
Admittedly I went in knowing the film to be little more than set up for next year's Avengers movie, but I'd still have liked there to be something of consequence happen rather than a vague "this is what I did before I was froze in ice" that's not really self-contained enough to be a classic superhero movie in its own right, though it's still pretty good fodder for an evening's entertainment, and however scattershot the time jump at the end may seem in story terms (and God knows what the non comics-literate viewer made of it, or the lack of any sense of closure to the WW2 story that comes from Cap's fate and the Red Skull just sort of 'going away' at the climax of their showdown), Cap's final line is oddly bittersweet and probably helps argue that the whole point is that his life and story gets uprooted from one place to another. I also like that in portraying Cap, they've taken at face value the notion that the America in Captain America's name represents fraternity rather than nationalism without having to lecture the audience about it.

Unfortunately, I also got to grips with Captain America: Super Soldier over the weekend, too (I can actually play videogames again - YAY!), and it's a far more ugly experience. The PS3 game based on the film is clearly the product of the makers playing a lot of Batman: Arkham Asylum and that is certainly a good place to start, but they then go and ruin it by returning to the bad old days of the plot to games being an afterthought by getting the game's accountant or tea lady or whoever is passing the office to write the script, which is leaden with cliche and occasionally mean-spirited in a way the movie was not, with terrible lines like "you haff outlivt yorr usefullness!" appearing in a non-ironic or knowing way and some lazy storytelling like Cap talking over his radio earpiece to other soldiers despite this being WW2 and not a Call Of Duty game - although there's plenty of nods to some of that franchise's ideas in here, just not as well-realised as the source material. Perhaps I'm spoiled by games like Mirror's Edge or Jak 3, but I do expect more from my game stories these days, and this is especially important in games that are palpably shoddy in their construction like this one is, though I suppose I'm probably the one at fault for thinking the makers of shovelware, even the writers, would attempt better.
It's pretty much what you might expect from the idea of an Arkham Asylum game with Captain America and shield-throwing shenanigans instead of Batman: a room-clearing exercise with the odd bit of climbing and very light puzzling along the way to the inevitable boss scraps that are more frustrating than they are actually challenging by the inclusion of groups of standard goons who rush you in the middle so things aren't "too easy", reducing fights that should be rewarding and fun to frustrating and random.
I know it's shovelware and I've probably already lost the right to throw stones after admitting that the poor story was what disappointed me most in a videogame, but even so, it's unengaging as a game and equally unengaging as a narrative exercise and if it wasn't so darn easy to rack up trophies for my PS3 online profile I'd probably have pawned it off on some unsuspecting relative already. I'm not angry at Captain America: Super Soldier, I'm disappointed.

(1) Although I'd agree that DC comics have taken things too far by having Wonder Woman be present in the Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima war memorial statue in Arlington and photographs of the event that exist in the DC universe. Why someone would ever think that a good idea is beyond me.