The release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier this month on disc and download reminds of what a terrific film it is. With some competition from its delightful Marvel Studios sibling, Guardians of the Galaxy, it's the best pop movie of the year.
Thank the universe for the film Snowpiercer; finally, a dystopian sci-fi movie that someone can gush over, one that leaves a lasting effect and a certain dread in the viewer. Dread, because so much of it rings so true for today's times.
Begin Again comes from writer-director John Carney, who burst forth with Once a few years ago. This film, which stars Keira Knightly and Mark Ruffalo (among others), captures the same blend of wistful emotions and life-affirming musical energy as that 2006 hit.
On the spectrum of the Marvel Comics franchise films, Captain America: The Winter Soldier doesn't reach the cinematic heights of the Raimi Spider-Mans or Whedon's The Avengers, but doesn't crater out anywhere near the Thor or Fantastic Four efforts.
I'm being coy about much of the story because this is an experience best imbibed with as little clue to its machinations as possible, but suffice it to say, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is everything the Marvel Studios brand represents.
Maybe it's because the studio movies at this time of year are so universally dreadful, but I find myself drawn to the smaller films that bite and snarl and generally have bad manners: Bad Words, The Raid 2 and, this week, Dom Hemingway.
With producer Kevin Feige and the other folks at the helm of Marvel Studios delivering a master class in franchise management, the Marvelverse is cruising ahead this year towards the end of its Phase Two.