I was thinking “Gee, what can I write about this weekend in my blog?” because I’m trying to get at least one new post up on the weekends. (High expectations eh?) And then it occurred to me that HEY! Captain America is a Disney movie! I can review it and be on-topic!
Except… this isn’t going to be a specially popular review, because I will say up front that I didn’t care for the movie. And, I can’t really say all of why without revealing spoilers. So I’m going to briefly touch on why I didn’t like it, and get that out of the way, and then discuss both the things I did like and a general overview of the film.
So, to be fair, a lot of what I didn’t like is a standard blockbuster trope these days. I don’t care for movies that are all about their action sequences. (This is why I did not like “Transformers” and wouldn’t see any of its sequels. I consider it the ultimate representation of what I don’t like: it’s needlessly, ridiculously extreme.) While I was surprised by how much I enjoyed “The First Avenger”, I found quickly that “Winter Soldier” falls into the extreme just to measure up category of blockbusters, which put me off quickly. There were many things that took a quick shortcut. I really want to avoid major spoilers so I will not reveal them, but I found it very easy to figure out numerous plot twists early on (I mean, within the first 15 minutes for most) and I thought that a few big “reveals” were given too early to be legitimately as powerful as they could have been.
I think the difference, for me, between the first and second Captain America films was the scope. “The First Avenger” set itself entirely in the 40s and its scope and effects and action were appropriate to that time period. There was something nostalgically historic about it and it clicked nicely. “The Winter Soldier” managed to say “Well, now we’re in the 21st Century so let’s KICK IT UP A NOTCH!!” and we get down to… well, high-speed car-chase fight sequences. Lots of them. I am not opposed to these when I feel like the story actually calls for them and isn’t just moving along so that there are scenes in between them, but the story here felt underdone and lazy – as I said, the plot twists were old hat and easily predictable based on several factors – which left me dissatisfied. But again, as I said at the start of this review, that’s a personal preference. I’m not an action-movie fanatic and I don’t tend to care much about watching things get destroyed. (I do, oddly, like hand-to-hand combat sequences and this movie delivers pretty well on that.)
Also, as a DC native, I nitpick heavily on movies that are supposed to take place in DC. It’s an unfair habit, because most films cannot actually be filmed where they are supposed to take place, but I can’t help it. It was my favourite thing to do while watching the X-Files, too, and I do love that show. 😉 So that alone doesn’t make or break a story for me, but it’s just an aside. This film had scenes that did take place where they were supposed to be, but others where I was like “NO, not just ANY big city will suffice! You GUYS that is NOT a Metro Bus!” and things. I annoyed my husband. 😉
Okay! Moving on from my own personal issues and biases, there are other things to discuss in this movie! For one, and I always consider this a big plus, it takes a lot of material from story arcs in several different Marvel comics – some Captain America, some Nick Fury, and others. It looks back to “First Avenger” in a few scenes, including one I was waiting for since first being introduced to Arnim Zola. (That scene did NOT disappoint. It was perfect.) It also looks forward, with subtle set-ups for new characters from the comics who will appear in later films.
The introduction of the Falcon, as well, is top-notch. He’s a good character, albeit slightly under-developed (but hey, they only had so much time), and I can buy the bond that developed immediately between him and Cap. (I will take a minute out to say that minority casting in fantasy and comic book films is a big point with me, and I give high marks to this film for the Falcon. Also that I read that Anthony Mackie was disappointed he didn’t get to wear the actual red/gold costume. LOL.) The odd partnership between Cap and the Black Widow, I’m a little on the fence about, but that has to do with my not being sure what I think of that character in general. Regardless, it was well-handled and she has several great moments.
Based on the casting and the posters, I’m not sure if the identity of the Winter Soldier is considered a spoiler or a secret in the least, but I’m going to treat it as one here. I can say it had no emotional punch to me at all, but that’s what it is. The ending worked well after an extended “Meh” from me; they built on it well.
Over all, I am a huge fan of the “Iron Man” movies so far and have yet to really enjoy any of the subsequent franchises. I haven’t seen the second “Thor” movie yet but wasn’t too taken with the first; and I’m in the minority camp of actually not liking “The Avengers”. I didn’t hate it, I just… was underwhelmed. I like Iron Man on his own these days, it seems. 🙂 I really did like “The First Avenger” which is probably why I was so let down by “The Winter Soldier”. I wouldn’t warn anyone away from it, it’s just not one I’d recommend if asked what the BEST Disney Marvel film is.
I will end on one final note: this was my favourite Stan Lee cameo to date (not including “Big Hero 6”, that is)!