Synopsis: Steve Rogers struggles to embrace his role in the modern world and battles a new threat from old history: the Soviet agent known as the Winter Soldier.
Every film invokes a different type of response. We’ve just passed Oscar season which means it’s time to start transitioning into summer and the variety of blockbusters coming our way. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the first of this action-packed genre to grace the big screen and I have to say, it’s going to be difficult for this summer’s lineup to top this film.
So far what we’ve seen of Chris Evans as Captain America has been limited to the first self-titled film, which serves as an origin story, and his shared screen time in The Avengers. What makes this film stand out amongst his other appearances is the focus on the dynamic characteristics of Captain America. He is a patriotic soldier displaced in a time where patriotism has a new meaning and loyalty is forgotten. Throughout the film this notion is explored in a way that we have not seen before by infusing modern day political controversy with the idealistic views of Steve Rogers’ (Captain America) World World II era. Because of this, Chris Evans was finally able to prove he is the embodiment of the character and distance himself from more comical roles we may have known him for.
The supporting cast are adequate enough but adhere to the film’s star by making their appearances short-lived and for the most part staying out of the spotlight only to build upon the character development of Captain America. Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) acts as a somewhat glimpse into Captain America’s love life as she is the only one who inquires about it and tries to push him into the dating world. Nick Fury (Jackson) and Alexander Pierce (Redford) act as the catalyst that makes Captain America question those he serves and his patriotism. They are both representations of modern day politics with the lies, deceit, and bureaucracy that surrounds them. Out of all of the supporting cast, I would say that Robert Redford was my favorite. He has a demeanor about him that many can relate to other real politicians thus giving the film a more realistic story outside of the obvious super hero flare.
Anthony Mackie was likeable in his role as the Falcon, but his screen time was short and his costume was a bit lackluster which could be argued as a pro or a con. The Falcon was never an interesting character in comics but the concept is cool and what little action was shown in the film was entertaining to watch. The other character that was hiding in the shadows was the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) who of course is Cap’s rival that the plot slowly builds towards. As a villain, he was a man of few words but his presence was significant. He established a mental and physical vulnerability in Captain America, making him a flawed hero but also a more dynamic one. I am extremely interested to see where Marvel takes the Winter Soldier because although he may have had a quiet presence in this film, Sebastian Stan has signed on for quite a few more Marvel film appearances and by the end of the film I was curious to see what happens next.
As I watched all of these characters develop through the unraveling of the plot there was an unlikely element of this film that stood out in a positive way. The fight sequences were absolute eye candy and not from just a visual effects perspective, it was the choreography. James Young, the film’s fight choreographer, created some of the most fluid and precise hand to hand combat sequences. I was almost giddy watching Captain America trade blows with others and it made me feel like a kid watching that film they had been dying to see. The great thing about Captain America is that he’s still a vulnerable man that uses his fists just like us. I give a lot of credit to the directors and choreographer for this strong yet grounded element of the film.
I continually pondered over the film looking for a flaw but there comes a point when entertainment value trumps formulated critique. This is never going to be an Academy Award winning film and it had its flaws but it will be a pinnacle film in the Marvel catalog that will continue to be talked about after other critically acclaimed films have come and gone. Amongst comic book films I wouldn’t say it’s better than The Dark Knight but I will say that this sequel is “Captain America’s Dark Knight” as it is a vast improvement over the first film and possibly a contender against The Avengers. This film was overall entertaining with an intriguing plot and an absolute awe-inspiring performance from Chris Evans who IS the living embodiment of Captain America. It was a film that made me relive what it was like to be a kid and see my heroes on the big screen. For that I would highly recommend anyone (especially fans) to see this film immediately and if you’re like me, see it a few more times.
Captain America The Winter Soldier – 8.5 out of 10
The “Dark Knight” of Captain America films…
Captain America: The Winter Solider opens during the strange time of year for a comic blockbuster: early April. It seems like an appropriate time that Hollywood is changing the game for when a big movie can open. After all, fifteen years ago this week The Matrix opened and seemed to slowly blur the lines for movie genres opening on certain dates. Disney keeps churning out Marvel movies almost quarterly. And audiences tend to enjoy these movies. The days of Daredevil seem to be behind us as studios interject quality filmmaking traits (signing talented directors commanding capable cast of actors) to bring the pages of comics to the screen.
There are a few things to admire from the latest installment for the Captain America. First, this is an improvement over the first one. Hands down. It enhances the old fashioned reverence of the first movie (that came across more of a cheesy, adventure-packed character study) into a modern day blockbuster. This is a sequel that didn’t drag nor seemed motivated by money (Iron Man 2 and 3 come to mind). Okay, most to all sequels are motivated to make money, but the filmmakers Joe and Anthony Russo put care into what they made. They even shot most of the movie in their hometown of Cleveland. As a former Ohio resident who is somewhat familiar with the downtown, I recognized the buildings and streets featured in the movie. As states become competitive with tax credits, get used to more movies being filmed in the heartland.
My favorite thing was the plot and how it seemed relevant to our modern era of war. There is timeliness to the plot especially modern day references to keeping a corrupt government held accountable (appropriate in our NSA infused, post-Citizens United America). Also, the scenes of soldiers being counseled for PTSD are timely even this week with the incident at Fort Hood and the statistics of suicides in the military. Both government accountability and PTSD are two issues that could use additional exposure.
I think it would benefit viewers if they follow The Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. television show, a series I have been meaning to watch (a rarity for a guy who prefers art-house movies). I think Chris Evans is maturing in this role to the point he be solidified as Captain America / Steve Rogers to casual moviegoers and the general public. I wasn’t a fan of Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson/Falcon. He seemed odd, clunky, and not comfortable. I haven’t cared for him in anything except The Hurt Locker.
Honestly, with the hype I was expecting more from Captain America: The Winter Soldier, yet thought it was a pretty adequate and very entertaining blockbuster. The climatic battles were over the top and engaging. I cared what was going to happen. It was refreshing to see Scarlet Johansson (as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow) in a movie that was fun and not a high concept, complex romances (Her, Don Jon) which I like her in (or anything in for that matter). Ditto for Robert Redford having a blast on screen. Maybe Captain America: The Winter Solider might not be for every moviegoer, but comic fans and audiences eager to see an action packed blockbuster outside of summer will be very well pleased!
Captain America The Winter Soldier – 7.0 out of 10
Audiences eager to see an action packed blockbuster will be very well pleased…