*NEW* A WALK IN THE WOODS REVIEW *NEW*

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A walk to remember? Jog on.

A watchable if incredibly tame affair sees two ageing screen icons having fun. Shame, it didn’t live up to much.

After spending two decades in England, Bill Bryson (Robert Redford) returns to the US, where he decides the best way to connect with his homeland is to hike the Appalachian Trail with one of his oldest friends (Nick Nolte).

From the opening, I knew Redford would be a perfect Bryson. Quick witted and bored. We watch the frustrated travel writer meander along. Uninterested with life and New Hampshire. His awkward socializing at a funeral said it all.

A passing comment from a morning show host about never travelling in his own back yard and it isn’t long before Bryson yearns for another adventure. And what a trek. The 2,200 mile Appalachian trail.

Emma Thompson was delightful as Bryson’s long suffering spouse. She worked well with Redford. I was disappointed to see so little of her. I would have been happy to watch more of the pair. Deliberating leaving articles about bear attacks, murder mysteries and poisonous everything around the house in a hope of unsettling the stubborn fool.

However, a deal is made. Bryson must travel with someone. Cue the grisly bear that is Nick Nolte. A gruff overweight husk of a pensioner. An old friend that Bryson desperately tried to keep off his list.

Redford and Nolte made a likeable pair. They worked well together and shared some good banter. As soon as the pair began, they struggled up the first hill. Teens and kid scouts skipping past them without a care in the world.

The film had an air of Grumpy Old Men with a Wild vibe. It was easygoing and light hearted enough as the pair bicker, grunt and groan. Nolte hasn’t aged well at all. I couldn’t tell how much was put on for the film. BUT he was still a slick charmer with his smart ass commentary.

John Bailey’s cinematography certainly captured some picturesque shots of the trail through the different seasons. It almost made me want to pick up a bag pack and go.

Despite seeing two screen icons slumming it and having a laugh, it was all a little tame and predictable. You knew that their bickering would unearth deeper resentments. The fact the pair hadn’t talked for nearly 40 years was a clue alone. You knew that inevitable heart to heart moment would soon be on the cards.

It wasn’t all bad. There were fun moments to be had with Nolte being chased by a redneck for chatting up his wife. The pair screaming and waving their arms around like nutters to scare off some bears.

Kristen Schaal (The Flight of the Conchords) was funny and oh so irritating in her camping cameo as the hiker from hell. Her constant put downs and know it all attitude soon sets these two old codgers running for the hills.

I was impressed with the supporting cast. It was a shame that Schaal was the only one to make a lasting impression. Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation) was completely wasted in his blink-and-you’ll-miss-it role as the tent guide. His deadpan style wasn’t used to its full potential. A quick sarcy one liner about a rain cover wasn’t enough.

And the wafer thin subplot, if you can call it that, with Mary Steenburgen’s character was a waste of time. The flirty exchanges with Bryson and Steenburgen’s motel proprietress were tame. You just knew that he would never be tempted and it surmounted to nothing. Shame.

There wasn’t a lot going on after an easygoing opener. It tended to drag and soon fizzled out by the closing moments after the pair had their epiphanies. It didn’t help that it ended so corny and predictably.

There was enough charm to make this a watchable and lighthearted romp BUT memorable? Not for me, I’m afraid.

2.5/5

CAPTAIN AMERICA: WINTER SOLDIER REVIEW

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A welcome return from the First Avenger!

As Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) struggles to embrace his role in the modern world, he teams up with a fellow Avenger and S.H.I.E.L.D agent, Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) to battle a new threat from history: an assassin known as the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan).

An enjoyable action packed romp. I felt Captain America: The First Avenger showed promise with a good set of characters that I hoped would have exploited the untapped World War backdrop. BUT alas it was not to be. Rushed to meet that Avengers Assemble release date, I was left feeling a little disappointed.

Right up to this point, some of the entries had been mixed (Despite my love of the Marvel universe) from the rehashed Hulk origin stories (Team Bana all the way!) to the brilliant Thor films. The first Avengers was over-hyped, overlong and OTT for me. Redeemed by an action packed finale.

However, this inevitable sequel (in a number of relentless comic book movies in the pipeline) managed to stand on its own, improve on the Cap franchise and make itself a worthy addition.

Despite my grumblings at how swift Rogers was pushed from WW2 to the present, WS made up for it by focusing on his transition. Providing some much needed depth. A man catching up with the times. A joke involving a “Things to check out on the Internet” list was nicely done.

However, a new war is brewing under the clean streets of Washington, one that compromises the very organisation of SHIELD, leading to an action packed, octane thrill ride (that is a little long at 136 minutes) that questions the Cap’s very ethics and honour. With a new war comes a whole new set of rules and lines he doesn’t want to cross.

The action set pieces were great to watch. The fight scenes were intense and brilliantly choreographed. The 3D element left much to be desired, apart from the explosive finale. Not a necessity in your viewing experience.

Evans was fantastic. He is Captain America. His presence, his build (The dude is hench!) and his performance were spot on. He had great chemistry with ScarJo. Is there a brewing superhero romance on the cards?

The directing duo The Russo brothers even managed to introduce and revamp another Marvel addition quite well. It helped having Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker) taking on the role. Not enough of Falcon in my opinion. I loved the partnership between him and the Cap. More please.

Samuel L (the L stands for Mother – you get the idea) Jackson unleashes the Fury (ah ha) at last. Finally being brought into the action and given more screen time.

It might help to have watched the other entries to fill in the gaps BUT it’s not essential as the film does recap over crucial plot points for those who haven’t (or might have forgotten).

The Winter Solider was a worthy foe. However, his big reveal was hardly a twist or a shock. A bit too much build up and emphasis on that moment. I was great to see Robert Redford and he played the sinister Congressman Alexander Pierce to perfection. He does unfortunately dither into the background BUT the guy is nearly 80 so I’ll give him a break.

The supporting cast was impressive, if maybe wasted a little. Cudos to Maximiliano Hernandez for his turn as Jasper Sitwell (Marvel Agents of SHIELD TV fans will know). I had to laugh at Pierce’s Board Room of Doom featuring the likes of Jenny Agutter (An American Werewolf in London) and . . . Jim from Neighbours (Alan Dale).

Frank Grillo (The Purge) was menacing. While, the beautiful Emily Van Camp (Revenge), talented though she is, was given a relatively minor and passive role. Anyone could have played her. If not for a little twist, well if you can call it that, her character would have been pointless.

There may be plot holes and a questionable length BUT with decent set pieces, balanced humour and an actual story line that fleshed out the Cap, my faith has been restored in the First Avenger and I look forward to the next one.

3.5/5

Of course, stay for the credits for a mid-credit reveal. Don’t say to the very end, the clip was pointless. You might as well have had Stan Lee pop up and say, “You still here?”