Australia's own Cate Shortland directs this origin story for Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow (and first film in Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe), also starring Florence Pugh as Yelena, David Harbour as Alexei/The Red Guardian, Rachel Weisz is Melina, Ray Winstone as Dreykov and William Hurt as Thaddeus Ross.
It’s got to be said, the new Marvel TV shows are an impressive lot so far. Beginning with the surprisingly emotionally resonant mystery box of Wandavision, next cab off the rank is The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. And while this new one resembles a more traditional televisual experience, it’s nonetheless pretty bloody enjoyable.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier features, naturally enough, The Falcon (Anthony Mackie) and the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) in the post Thanos snap confusion of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (but on the telly!). The Falcon aka Sam Wilson is having a decent enough time of it. He’s working various government contracts and kicking arse for Uncle Sam. The Winter Soldier aka Bucky Barnes, however, is having a darker time. Still suffering from the memories of the terrible deeds he did while brainwashed by Hydra, Captain America’s bestie is trying to right his various wrongs. But, crikey it’s a long list…
So, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’s rather clunky title isn’t an accident. It’s a deliberate tip of the hat to The Falcon and the Snowman (1985), a political thriller about agents beginning to have doubt in their government. Doubt is a key term for this show, because in the first episode we see Sam beginning to doubt America’s commitment to him and the other heroes, and Bucky is beginning to doubt he can ever make amends.
If this seems like pretty heavy gear for a show ostensibly about a bloke who has robot wings and another chap with a super strong metal arm, you’re not wrong. However, the whole caper is executed with a light touch, deftly shifting from spectacular action to social commentary and back again.
It’s a little early at this stage to say if The Falcon and the Winter Soldier will maintain a cracking yarn over its six episodes, but the opening hour is promising, and looks like it will dig into concepts that are a little more nuanced and abstract than its big screen stablemates.
How far we have come since 2008's Iron Man... and we're not just talking about special effects. The Avengers are now a couple of days away from premiering in a limited series on Disney's own streaming platform. We wonder if Doctor Strange could have ever predicted that one.
Disney+ looks to continue their exciting streaming output with this 6 episode series featuring Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson aka The Falcon, and Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes aka The Winter Soldier, as they get into all sorts of mayhem after coming together in the final moments of Avengers: Endgame.
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a new console generation’s first few games are either a bit crap or shallow tech demos. You don’t even have to go back far to see the trend. The launch/near launch titles on the PS4 were Killzone Shadow Fall (pretty, shallow) and Infamous Second Son (pretty, shallow). Well, it’s all just a bit of history repeating with Spider-Man: Miles Morales providing a beautifully rendered, not terribly deep introduction to the beefy new PS5. However, just because it’s a bit simple, doesn’t mean it isn’t fun.
Spider-Man: Miles Morales is a sequel/spin-off from Marvel’s Spider-Man, the very solid title from friendly neighbourhood Insomniac Games. This time around the player is thrust into the scuffed sneakers of Miles Morales, who revealed his superpowers at the end of the previous game. Peter Parker, the OG Spidey, has to bugger off overseas, leaving New York in Miles’ hands. Which would be fabulous, were it not for the arrival of a new big bad, The Tinkerer, who is using a kind of programmable matter to wreak havoc on the Roxxon company and, by extension, the city itself.
There’s a lot about Spider-Man: Miles Morales that works really well. Miles is an affable, engaging character and his relationships with friends and family give the entire story a lot of heart and moments of genuine pathos. The gameplay, like the previous title, is superbly kinetic, and swinging through New York has lost none of its charm, particularly when played at 60fps. The fluid, dynamic movement is an utterly engaging joy. Combat too, with Miles’ added Venom Powers, feels slick and acrobatic and the addition of new enemy types is extremely welcome.
On the downside, the game is short – 5-7 hours or so – and all the busywork, map-filling content in the world can’t hide that fact. Despite its slender length, there’s also a perturbing amount of filler. One mission in particular had Miles having to power up a bunch of generators to enter a building followed by… powering up another bunch of generators to use a McGuffin inside the building!
The plot, also, is serviceable rather than spectacular, with the villains never feeling particularly iconic and the combat scenarios skewing a little samey. Plus, there are a number of technical problems with the game, particularly on the higher visual fidelity modes, that led to dramatic crashes from time to time. Sure, this is to be expected when early adopting new tech, but it’s still a pain and should be noted.
And yet, despite all of that, Spider-Man: Miles Morales is a damn good time. Superb graphics, flawless animation, fast-paced movement and concussive combat combine for a light but compelling experience. If you own a PS5 this is basically a must-own, despite niggling issues and a hefty price tag.