aptain America: The Winter Soldier” (2014) blends just the right amount of character likability with moderate infusions of blockbuster surrealism to bring you a solid, quality film. It satisfies your natural appetite for entertainment with a “just right” serving that avoids excessive cinematic indulgence—kind of like the label recommended teaspoon limit for a serving of Nutella. You serve it and eat it, but still think about it, wondering whether you should be content or not with the recommended serving. You’ve been told you should be, and it might feel like you are, but for you it’s always: more than enough, almost enough, just enough, or not enough just yet. This movie is going to be an either-or between one of the last two outcomes.
Filmed primarily in Washington D.C, the location and setting will be a real treat to the natives of the DMV (DC, MD, and VA) metro area. Watching familiar streets being ripped apart with burnout car chases in Dupont Circle, while the National Mall is assailed with battle fire are vividly imaginative scenes to behold for local residents.
Seeing familiar faces is always a treat, especially in the big screen as with the famous cast of Marvel’s established Hollywood superhero multi-verse. Chris Evans turns heads for his chiseled body (damn those pecks) and crushes hearts for his tugging performance as Steve Rogers, America’s most loved soldier. You can’t help but smile at his quirky blast-from-the past idiosyncrasies, and classic old-school gentle nature. Makes you think how the douche from Fantastic Four’s the Human Torch and Captain America can be played by the same guy.
Viewers will note that Steve Rogers’ persona in this sequel is burdened with a heightened sense of psychological vulnerability, unlike some of the other stoic Marvel characters we’ve seen thus far (no need for name-calling).
Casting Robert Redford (Alexander Pierce) for a Marvel movie was an interesting choice which turned out well enough by the end, though more due to Redford’s acting capacity than for the written role itself. Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow was, not surprisingly, sexy, seductive and fitting, and I don’t mean just those taught black leather pants. Her candid one-liners and stealthy moves bring an essence of much needed strategy, an almost a spy-movie tenor to the film, to help distinguish the story from counterpart Marvel movies, a.k.a. Thor’s relentless hammer-bashing of every atom in reach. While I’m also still catching up on episodes form ABC’s “Brothers and Sisters,” it was nice to see Emily VanCamp (Agent 13), in a blockbuster-type role for once, cute as she is. I do wish, though, that we would have seen some cameo appearances from the other Marvel heroes like how Evans appeared in “Thor: The Dark World” for a brief spell under the guise of Loki. Stan Lee’s predictable appearance really brought out the toothy grins out of everyone.
That Marvel-esque humor? Check. The witty slapstick humor that’s become so symptomatic of these movies possesses a recognizable face of its own now, particularly vibrant in “The Avengers”, prepared with the right blend of wit and laugh-out-loud moments—to which credit must be assigned to proficient writing in tandem with on-point acting. I would not be doing it justice if there wasn’t a special mention to Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man for perfecting this.
The “Winter Soldier’s” storyline steadily develops to maturity with its own intricate complexities, riddled tastefully with a lavish level of twists, action scenes, and yes, surprisingly even some semi-tearjerkers. We very much appreciated the dismissal of gun-ho-lets-destroy-the-universe-in-the-climax-type plot lines. The conflict, this time, was man-made and pinned in potentially “real” history, instead of the usual extra terrestrial beings threatening inter-galactic security of a multilateral universe. So good job screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely! The creative thread that wove the contextual fabric of Captain America’s second story was durably strong, needling through relevant histories and references to sketch an interesting could-be version of extremist post-Axis WWII ideology. Including Illuminati-ish/Freemasonry jibes really will make all those conspiracy theorists and enthusiasts out there go “ha! I knew it!” The ‘Hail Hydra!’ greeting is a funny referent to the more familiar ‘Heil Hitler!’ in our world, which was another curious touch.
But what, though, is the unceasing obsession with battles in the skies with futuristic aircrafts? For some reason Marvel’s writers cannot seem to pull out of this newly coined cliché just yet. We’ve seen enough of these shots in “The Avengers” and “Thor: The Darkworld” with its boat-like flying starfighter look-alikes. Writers—please note that we’ve seen it being done again and again now you’ll really need to shift your creative gears to Mach 3 to blast away from that form of writers block.
Direction by the Russo brothers and the cinematographic selections by Trent Opaloch were well executed to the point of dexterously captivating and involving audiences in the intense action sequences. Speedy tracking shots follow the action, and the low angle framing positions audiences to view it all at the ground-level, jolting around with the fights while volleying back and forth. Personally, I think this choice was more effective than opting for mid-long framing shots, usually seen more compulsively for showdown battles (like in “Man of Steel”). The filming was also strikingly reminiscent of the dizzying action sequences of the Bourne sagas.
A truly feel good movie that is made ever the more pleasant with Evan’s genuinely all-American bright-white smile, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” earns a stable 7.3/10. Adieu.