Wednesday, 3 August 2011


  It's 1942, and scrawny, asthmatic everyman Steve Rogers (a convincingly CGI-reduced Chris Evans) wants to serve his country, not to kill Nazis, but because he "hates bullies." Considered ideal for eccentric scientist Stanley Tucci's Supersoldier experiment, Rogers promptly morphs into superbuff, star-spangled champion Captain America and flexes his awesome abs in a succession of wonderfully volatile set-pieces.
  The 1940s setting is inspired and director Joe Johnston (Rocketeer)  handles the action with pitch-perfect tone, infusing proceedings with a swashbuckling spirit, as Cap crashes motorcycles, chases submarines and brawls on airships. Shields fly like frisbees, the stunts are nifty and things explode spiffingly.
  Evans cuts a refreshingly likeable figure as an awkward hero just trying to do the right thing, sparking beguiling chemistry with Hayley Atwell's feisty English rose love interest, while Tommy Lee Jones' grizzled colonel brings effortless wry humour. An exceptional cast is rounded off by Dominic Cooper's enthralling, roguish inventor Howard Stark (Iron Man's dad!) and a creepy Hugo weaving as delicious, disfigured antagonist The Red Skull.
  Captain America is a satisfying superhero romp that delivers magnificent spectacle and loveable characters. More than just a set-up for next Summer's Avengers, this is the sort of picture that makes grown men hug and punch the air in triumph.
 A real American hero.


Summer 1986, Karate Kid II  was out. My first cinematic adventure could have been watching Ralph Macchio kicking blokes in the head and destroying ice with his bare hands. Instead, I was left with a crippling sadness and the sense that nothing would ever be the same again. Mummmy picked Bambi.
  I still remember the comforting whiff of fresh popcorn and the startlingly deafening 'Ba Ba Bas' of that Pearl & Dean ad. Soon, as I shovelled sweeties in my gob, charming, bright-eyed fluffy creatures, bounded through sun-kissed, flower-lined glens. And then...
A thunderous gunshot. Whoa.
"Mother...Where are you?"
Cue much disconsolate wailing.
"How about an ice-lolly?" came mum's desperate, placating offer.
No mummy. There will be no ice-lollies today. From now on, there is only darkness, psychological trauma and the harrowing inevitability of oblivion.
Expecting harmless, blissful Summer fun, I was now saddled with a haunting sense of my own fragile mortality and the knowledge that the ones we love can so easily be snatched away.
  Years later, I finally saw Karate Kid II on VHS. It was a bit naff. But at least no-one died.
Cheers, Mum.

"...For man with no forgiveness in heart, life worth punishment than death." - Mr Miyagi.