Warning: Very minor spoilers of: Captain America: The winter Soldier, Captain America: The First Avenger, and The Avengers. It’s hardly anything but if you want to watch the movies 100% uninformed then beware.
When I think about it, Marvel Studios is producing something more like a giant TV series than a bunch of movies. Starting with the first Iron Man, they have been building a narrative and a world that is increasingly dependent on the previous film, regardless of which superhero it featured. I, personally, love this multi-series entangling of characters that makes the sum of the movies greater than any of them individually. The down side, though, is that if you don’t care for a particular superhero you will probably have to see their movie anyway, else you miss out one something important in the next Marvel film. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is hopefully on your list of movies you want to see because, if you don’t, you are going to be left in the dust in any of the upcoming movies such as the sequel to The Avengers. Thankfully, I can say that the newest entry into Marvel’s series is one of my favorite so far.
With the bitter taste of Thor: The Dark World’s uninspired and overall boring story still fresh in my mind, I was careful not to set my expectations too high when walking into the newest Captain America. I am glad to say, however, that the film, much like its original, has an exciting narrative to tell and is paced wonderfully so the viewer never feels worn out from action or constantly waiting for more. Even though it stretches over the two hour mark, I never felt that scenes were drawn out or unnecessary due to the ever advancing plot. A trouble I see with a lot of sequels is that they jump right into the challenge to overcome without much lead up but, in this film, the Captain takes time to reflect on outcomes of both the first film and The Avengers which builds his character. But when the story goes get into full swing, you won’t want to get up for anything. Without trying to spoiling too much, the plot in this film resonates with extreme importance and, by the end, you know things have changed. In this way, it’s unlike the cookie-cutter “here’s a problem, fix the problem, everything’s ok now” films that leave me a bit dissatisfied. In all, everything just makes sense. There is nothing I saw and said “Why would he do that?” or “Isn’t that obvious?” I always felt like I was learning about things along with the characters and nothing was too blatantly obvious that you were just waiting for them to find out. I can only say that I wish they didn’t hinge such an important development in the series that Marvel has crafted on a movie that some people may overlook.
As I said before, the first chunk of the movies focuses more on the character development of Steve Rogers, Captain America, as it did in the first movie. I remember how much I enjoyed seeing Steve grow into Captain America in the first film because it wasn’t as rushed as some of the other movies which lead to a stronger narrative overall. Steve is a very likeable character that can both bring in the comic relief and act as serious protagonist, two roles which would normally require two separate actors. He is probably the superhero with the most controlled ego because, after all, he still views himself as a soldier who works with, not for, the people. It is evident that his character is not bound in loyalty to the country of America as his name would suggest but the values it was built off of. The Black Widow, on the other hand, is a character I simply cannot get behind. Throughout the movie she is stagnant in her emotions which I cannot decide is just how her character is written of if it is the acting of Scarlett Johansson. It always seems like she is disinterested in what is happening and only holds a place to assist the Captain. She needlessly tries to act sly and cool in all situations which I understand is who she is but is not an attitude that fits every single situation. Generally, I just did not enjoy the role she played. Sam Wilson, the Falcon, is one of the opening characters in the film. He acts as a bridge to connect the Captain’s loss in the past to the more current losses of a modern day soldier. In their exchanges, the audience can easily pick up on an underlying message about current conflicts which I was not at all expecting but the way it is suddenly dropped to pick up the main story is disappointing. It makes the subject seem likes something that was simply thrown without being fleshed out more. Other than being a catalyst for this, Sam is utterly average and there is nothing much to say about his character. Finally, there is the character of Nick Fury, the director of S.H.I.E.L.D. Basically, he is the ultimate badass who is not to be messed with. In all, he does not get too much screen time but, when he is onscreen, he controls the room and acts as a seasoned operative who controls the world’s largest intelligence agency should. When not being too deep, you are able to see under his armor and realize he is just a man that has to make incredibly are choices. In all, the characters of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, are strong where it counts but sag in some of the non-critical roles.
Every time I see a new movie, the special effects and CGI are increasingly becoming more and more effective to the point where it is almost completely believable. It is my belief that Marvel has mastered the art of integrating both the real world and CGI to create action that is not completely dependent on computers. Unlike a movie like Avatar, it does not feel like every scene is filmed in front of a green screen which, to me, makes the action feel more authentic. It sometimes ruins the effect to think that the actors are simply running around in an indoor studio but, during the film, the thought never came to me like it sometimes does. It is in the action, however, that I have my biggest gripe about the film: the camera work. The wide-angle camera shots that are meant to show off the digital artists’ work are, unfortunately, nowhere to be found in the hand-to-hand combat scene. Instead, there is a camera that is much too close to the action and so shaky that you can almost not even tell what is happening. It almost makes me motion sick with how makes that camera jerks around to try to capture the action. I almost think they chose this style of filming so that acting out the fight scenes would be easier because the audience can barely tell who is doing what. It is obvious that the main focus was on the large battle scenes rather than the close-quarters-combat.
I can say that this is one of my favorite Marvel films to date. Though some of the characters are weak, the narrative that is told surpasses most of its peers. If you plan to see any of the Marvel movies in the future you are basically going to have to see this one first not because it is good but because it is just so very important. On a final thought, it was very distracting how the film was so forward with the product placement of Chevy. Every shot lingering a bit too long on the badge and every unnecessary camera change to outside a car that characters were in took away from the movie. It is hard to believe that Marvel had to take the advertising money. Also, to anyone that watches Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on ABC, I warn you not to watch the most recent episodes starting on Tuesday April 8th if you do not want the film to be spoiled a great deal. While I do love the integration of the show with the world, I was very surprised that they would not have some kind of warning at the start for people who had not yet seen the film. I give Captain America: The Winter Soldier a 7.5/10.
*Note: In my reviewing scale, a 5/10 means the film was completely average in every way, neither good nor bad.