Captain America: the Winter Soldier Review
Pretty frickin’ awesome.
It cannot be said that either DC or Marvel is batting 1000 when it comes to movies but I have to say for the most part Marvel does way better than DC. Sure, they have had their Hulks, Wolverine Origins, Howard the Ducks, Ghost Riders, Daredevils, and Electras but for the most part when they set out to do a cinema exxxxxxxtravaganza they pull it off and it has only gotten better since Disney took over (thanks Disney. You are still evil but I appreciate your movies). DC, on the other hand, is still struggling to do anything more than mediocre with any comic book that doesn’t have “Bat” in the title (and even the last Batman kind of sucked. Plus let us never forget or forgive Batnipples). If you lower things down the the base level and compare worst to worst Electra was better than Catwoman, Ghost Rider was better than Green Lantern, Daredevil was better than Jonah Hex, and the collective sum of all the evils released by Pandora that plague mankind is better than Batman and Robin (Haw. Mythology humor. Every day I get better and better).
Of course my Review-y sense tingles whenever I see the trailers for Guardians of the Galaxy. I want my comic book movies to be taken seriously by the studio, not turned into a laugh-a-minute circus. Hooked on a Feeling by Blue Swede is not a song designed to make you take anything seriously. Time will tell.
All that aside I thought Captain America: the Winter Soldier was freaking awesome. It had almost all the elements needed for a fun, exciting movie: a story with drama, great action, great special effects, appealing characters, excellent camera work and editing, a guy with a shield, and S.H.I.E.L.D. They stayed true to the Captain America from Civil War in that he believes in the true freedom of America rather than the compromises we seem to be making every day (Retro Capt. image courtesy of the Marvel Comic t shirt category).
Of course the true strength of a comic book movie comes from the villain rather than the hero and in this the Winter Soldier excels. He is truly bad ass and strong enough to kick the hell out of Captain America but not so over the top that they have to come up with a magic bullet to kill him. In this regard Captain America is probably one of the best super heroes in that he is powerful but not so powerful that you have to have him fighting a god like Thor or Superman. When villains and heroes are on the level that a human could at least compete with them through luck or skill than they become much more interesting and engaging. I would be a grease stain on the sole of General Zod’s boot but against Scarecrow I could get lucky if I held my breath. It wouldn’t feel like a total waste of effort to try to run him over in my ’79 Thunderbird.
Naturally it wouldn’t be one of my reviews if I didn’t find something to bitch about. I can’t really talk about this without dropping some spoilers so skip ahead to the last couple paragraphs if that bothers you. SPOILER ALERT! The part that bugged the hell out of me is how freaking stupid the bad guys plan is. How exactly does a successful, rational human being working in politics decide the thing to do is follow the plan of a captured Nazi scientist to control the world through what can only be described as Nazi tactics? A scientist who wants everyone who is part of his secret plan to swear fealty to Hydra and whisper Hail Hydra in each others ear? And his plan is to launch three flying death fortresses that will kill 20,000,000 people based on an algorithm developed by that scientist around his own already proven murky sense of morality? The one who used to work for the most evil regime in history and who looks and sounds like he heats his house in the winter by throwing babies in the furnace? Who wants to recreate an organization that was so evil and dangerous that they had to form a special task force just to stop them? That guy?
Also how about that guy having his consciousness transferred into a computer made of reel to reel machines circa 1976? My iPhone has about 10000 times the computing power.
They just can’t let go of the scope issues. Instead of making this about a power struggle inside S.H.I.E.L.D. it has to be about Hydra somehow infiltrating the organization created to fight against them and then coming up with a really dumb and expensive plan to kill millions. How about a S.H.I.E.L.D. plan to read every email, text, and listen to every phone call in order to restrict our freedoms? Or is that hitting too close to home? I don’t know. I just found the whole base concept stupid. An analogy I thought of while headed home last night is that a movie is like a submarine, navigating the Sea of Disbelief. A good plot cruises long on the surface, enjoying the sun and fresh air. Every time you do something that makes the audience say “huh?” you dive another hundred feet under the water, causing the hull to strain as all the pressure of disbelief gets stronger and stronger. Some movies creak and groan, some movies spring leaks, and some are totally crushed like a beer can against a frat boys forehead.
This movie wasn’t on the crushed side but I could definitely hear the hull plates groaning. The story starts off with Captain America (Chris Evans-What’s Your Number?, the Avengers, Scott Pilgrim versus the World) running laps with his African American side kick (are we not as a nation over that yet?) Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie-Real Steel, Hurt Locker, Pain and Gain). He gets picked up by Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson-Her, The Prestige, We Bought a Zoo) in a Corvette and goes off on a mission to save a SHIELD ship from pirates. If you saw the opening scene from the Expendables you have seen this segment, except Captain America gets into an extended fight against the main pirate.
They rescue a bunch of hostages including SHIELD Agent Sitwell (Maximiliano Hernández-Warrior, Thor, the Avengers). Black Widow reveals she has a secret mission to recover data from the computer, a fact that pisses off Captain America. Back in the USA Nick Fury (Samual L. Jackson-Pulp Fiction, Django Unchained, the Incredibles) tells him to suck it up and then shows the Captain a secret project to launch three giant flying death stars who’s job is to assassinate enemies from the air using sophisticated targeting. Captain Americas belief in the American way makes him very unhappy with that.
On the drive home Nick is attacked by a ton of guys and barely manages to escape. He shows up wounded to Captain America’s apartment and tells the Capt that SHIELD is compromised. He gives Steve a USB drive right before he gets shot by an assassin. The assassin is the mythical Winter Solder and kicks 7 kinds of crap out of Captain America every time they meet.
Fury dies and the Captain goes to SHIELD headquarters. He is double crossed and has to flee. He hooks up with Black Widow and together they try to figure out who is behind the whole thing. Guys get shot, Winter Solder kicks more crap out of Captain America, giant flying aircraft carriers shoot at stuff, and bad guys never learn to try to shoot at Captain America’s legs under his shield. A master plan to control the world is revealed and Capt has to stop it with help from Black Widow, Falcon, and the woman of my dreams Colby Smoulders. Some old faces from the last movie surface to screw with Steve’s head.
Great comic book movie. Two stars. Now that I’m used to him being Captain America I really liked Chris Evans in this film. The rest of the cast nailed it too. One star. Great action, especially for PG-13. They kind of pushed the envelope and didn’t shy away from collateral casualties. One star. The Winter Soldier was freaking awesome. One star. My future wife Colby Smoulders was in this one and looking super hot. Somebody let her know she is destined to marry me. One star. Awesome CGI and special effects. One star. The back story of the Winter Soldier and Captain America was great and almost made up for the stupidity of the rest of the evil plot. One black hole. Robert Redford resurfaced and rocked it. One star. Overall super fun and exciting to watch. Three stars. Total: twelves stars.
The black holes:
Not a lot, but the one I have is pretty big. The whole Hydra/SHIELD/flying death star evil plot was like the finest 40 year old oak fermented wine, only substitute stupidity for wine. Sorry but it really pulled me out of the theater into the back ally where it gave my suspension of disbelief a sound thrashing. Two black holes. The 40 year old reel to reel computer housing the downloaded intellect of a human was super dumb too. It really felt like Disney was clearing out an old props warehouse and decided to get one more run out of the props from War Games before selling them off for scrap. One black hole. Total: three black holes.
A grand total of nine stars. Very fun and well worth your time. Date movie? Sure if she likes comic book movies and super heroes. Otherwise take her to see the Grand Budapest Hotel. Bathroom break? The film runs a whopping 136 minutes so odds are you will need it. There’s a scene towards the last 1/3rd where Captain America is on a bridge looking wistful and trying to sort out the morality of something that is pretty disposable. Most of the non-action scenes that don’t involve Nick Fury don’t contribute much to the movie so honestly any time you see Steve and Black Widow not blowing stuff up is a great time.
Thanks for reading. Fun movie to see and review. Most other films took the wise road and opted to not go head to head with this juggernaut so not a lot to see. I think I’m going to see Cesar Chavez on Sunday with a person I am very interested in (more optimistic souls might call it a third date but I am just going to try to enjoy the day) so look for that review soon. I have a big tournament coming up and am going to spend a lot of time this next week painting some new figures. I’ll try to get some stuff written this week (probably more Star Trek). Follow me on Twitter @Nerdkungfu and post comments on this film or review here. Off topic questions or suggestions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a great weekend and enjoy this film. Talk to you soon.