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Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Genre: Action/Adventure
Directed: Anthony Russo and Joe Russo
Starring: Chris Evans, Anthony Mackie, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel Jackson & Robert Redford
Running: 136 minutes

Man vs Movie has reported on the Marvel allegiance takeover in dull fashion over the years. Frankly, I am sick to death of it. The success of Iron Man (2008) and Avengers: Assemble in (2012) is well deserved. However Disney have all but forced us to eat a particular dinner that looked delicious in the oven but turned out to be too cold, mushy and tasteless i.e. the boring tale of Thor and The Dark World (2013), Ironman 2 (2010) followed by the divided opinion of Ironman 3 last year. Man vs. Movie can officially confirm that Ironman 3 was pure garbage! We could ramble on about Spiderman but that's for another day. The latest from Marvel studio is yet another sequel that tries to prove to superhero fans that the spawn of the Avengers success was not a once off enjoyment. As you may have already guessed, I did not like Captain America: The First Avenger (2011). I questioned myself but I would be lying if I told you there were sleepless nights. I came to the conclusion that maybe I just don't like Captain Steve Rogers as a whole? Well, since the release of winter soldier, Marvel fans (and me) have united to celebrate what is one of the most surprising movies of 2014 (so far) and the best marvel movie since the Avengers? (Yes that is a question).

Captain Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is now celebrated as the hero and ageless World War II veteran Captain America who is fitted to a new suit and assigned to American duty; protect, serve and like the fantastic opening scene on heavy waters, infiltrate. Captain America and SHIELD’s recruitment set the ass-kicking tone from the off as Captain America takes out armed guards on a SHIELD vessel occupied by an Algerian mercenary. The fight choreography is rough and tense as we watch what looks like an upgraded Captain flinging his deadly shield beyond all corners of the vessel.  SHIELD companion Natasha aka Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) is on her own mission of intelligence, one that leaves the Captain questioning the initial orders of Nick Fury (Samuel Jackson). It is only after the mission that the Captain is briefed by Fury as the patched dictator reveals Project Insight; three hellicarriers designed to park in the sky limit in order to eliminate any potential threat to the United States. Seeing this as a way of spreading an epidemic of fear rather than protection, Captain America's once proud perspective of the United States government is no longer. Steve Rogers struggles to adapt to modern society outside the suit. However Captain America is forced to put his politics to one side when Nick Fury is attacked by unknown assailants with the name “Winter Soldier “being linked to a potential destruction of SHIELD. 

Captain American and Black Widow seek to retain intelligence data that could reveal far more loose ends than they could have ever imagined. Creative villain Winter Soldier is the poison to Captain America's chalice making this sequel far more interesting in terms of depth; a story of relevance yet a backdrop of history and some much needed character development. The fantastic action scenes are just one reason this sequel pulls you in. Each character has their moment.  That "about time" moment happens for Nick Fury who gave us nothing but jibe talking jibber jabber in Marvel's “phase one” chapter.  However this time around Nick Fury advertises the very reason he is leading a bunch of kickass heroes into battle because he too can bolster some action. The lustful Black Widow is entertainingly witty and dangerous in her brutality once again, while new companion Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) aka Falcon is a humorous character of much likeness and excitement regarding the expansion of his story.

If a movie is going to be over two hours long the director would want to make sure it is well balanced. In this case, the action does outweigh the drama, and so it should; we want action, and we want it now. But, those looking for an all-out deconstruction of a country will want to stick to Man of Steel or Transformers because the portion of drama and dialog are added in what becomes a necessary environment of morals and human decisions based on terrorist acts, intelligence and the very existence of war. I think that is where winter soldier is receiving the majority of praise. It does carry relevance and depth followed by some well-choreographed scenes of brutality; an elevator brawl, a highway chase and a memorable showdown full of twists and turns. Reflecting back to my above sentence, this Marvel tale has everything involved to keep you interested.

Directors Joe and Anthony Russo go into much detail regarding the story's backdrop. The inheritance of the old “factual history” trick has worked really well on this occasion and fortunately suits the origins of Captain America and the villainous antagonist. Previous director Joe Johnston did something similar in its Nazi-mystic element featuring the red skull but it was two hours too long. The action became boring and the story was careless, while we never truly rooted for Steve Rogers and his transformation. The Winter Soldier does well in building on an already existing chapter and overdeveloping the story of “what was” in its brief flashbacks of the first movie. So in a way this sequel has the first movie to thank in regards to the diagnoses of each character, developing Chris Evans into a Captain America we engage with and ultimately root for – something that proved hard to do in its predecessor. It brings satisfaction in relation to the extent of where Captain America, as a comic-book superhero is going and will inevitably become.

We will see a third movie but not before a much anticipated Avengers sequel. Then we will see a return of the hammer wielding Thor and maybe a Mark Ruffalo Hulk revamp. By the time a third movie comes out fans would have made up their mind on where the hell Marvel is going to take all of this. Nevertheless, The Winter Soldier has done what Thor and Ironman failed to do – create an exciting level of anticipation regarding a trilogy. 

1 comment:

  1. Overall, you get a movie that is for the true Marvel fans and will leave you more than satisfied. Good review Gerard.