Captain America: The Winter Solider is my least favorite movie of Marvel Cinematic Universe’s second phase. Which doesn’t mean it isn’t great (of course it is, if you haven’t noticed Marvel’s logo slapped all over it). Directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, the movie has arguably the best action sequences Marvel has produced so far. We finally have our first compelling villain since Thor’s Loki. But the overall product was bogged down by the story’s connection to SHIELD (a secret society that reaches between franchises to team up the likes of Cap and Iron Man, for those who haven’t been keeping up).
The film plays more like a build up to Avengers 2 than a Captain America solo adventure. It had everything that makes Marvel movies fantastic, but suffered from a sense of lowered risk, like watching a prequel to a movie you’ve already seen (come on, we all knew nothing would stop Cap and company from appearing in Avengers 2).
Who’s the creepiest of them all
If you said Oculus, you’re half right, but the correct answer is Blumhouse Productions, who once again offer a strong installment to their expanding collection of low budget horror films (is there such a thing as a high budget horror film?). Oculus is more uncomfortable than horrific, a grimly patient burn of a movie that amounts to a horrifying blaze in the final act. Its unique brand of psychological scares is refreshing and (not counting a few ghoulish entities complete with CGI mirror eyeballs) completely original. Mike Flanagan’s excellent directing reflects well on this clever and original horror film.
Surprisingly, the film’s first half is almost completely devoid of significant scares, instead building up the story and characters. Tim Russell (Brenton Thwaites) is released from a mental hospital years after he murdered his father (Rory Cochrane) for killing his mother (Katee Sackhoff) as a child. He meets up with his sister Kaylie (Karen Gillan) who has spent years hunting down the Lasser Glass, an ancient, smudgy decoration she believes is responsible for the death of their parents. The mirror has a long history of killing its owners in gruesome ways, using brainwash manipulation to defend itself when people become aware of its powers (people who try to smash it always somehow miss or put the weapon down before they can even swing, etc.). Kaylie is determined to prove that her father didn’t murder her mother, and the glass is responsible.