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Captain America: The Winter Soldier – Review

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
by John Seedhouse

Did you avoid the “leaked” first 10 minutes which has been doing the hide and seek routine across the net for the last few weeks? If so then well done. If not? Well it’s not going to wreck the story for you.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier poster

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

2 Warnings.

Firstly there are SPOILERS in this review.

Secondly? I am a huge fan of the original Ed Brubaker series of Captain America that this film borrows from.

 

Anyway here is the synopsis from IMDB 

Steve Rogers struggles to embrace his role in the modern world and battles a new threat from old history: the Soviet agent known as the Winter Soldier.

Not all comic book readers are “hyper-critical armchair forum warriors” however, as countless bad movies show, they can be the destroyers of a film before the camera even rolls – perhaps even more of a poison chalice than including Ryan Reynolds in the cast…

Do I need to see the first film?

No. Added to that, you probably shouldn’t. It was a film about the Second World War that failed to mention either Germany or the Nazis… All you need to know is that Cap (the hero) got bumped into the future whilst his best mate Bucky (spoiler – he is the Winter Soldier of this movie) gets killed falling off a cliff being heroic.

Did you just wreck the film you are reviewing?

Have you been living under a rock? I assume that you may not have read anything about the film and that you didn’t notice that Sebastian Stan (the very likeable insane Mad Hatter from Once Upon a Time) is listed in the main cast. If these 2 facts are true then possibly, yes, sorry.

Why did you just do that?

I did mention that I was a fan of the comic books the plot is kind of based on. Unlike Fox and Sony’s approach to the Marvel properties (X-Men and Spider-man) which it plays quite fast and loose with the original comics and at times causes fan-boy head explosions, Disney (maybe due to Joss Wheedon and Jeff Loeb) products seem to be more selective and less embarrassed by the source material. In the same way that Iron Man 3 borrowed swathes of story ideas from Warren Ellis’ brief tenure as book writer, Cap 2 picks out the core thriller-esque elements of Brubaker’s run.

So it’s just a hand-job for the fanboys then?

I am not going to lie to you here. We saw this in the Giant Screen at Millennium Point and it was a fan-boy (plus the odd date) audience. It was maybe 1/3 full (probably down to the fact that nobody in Birmingham seems to realise that the cinema exists rather than it being a poor film – spoiler – it isn’t…) Anyway there were quite a few happy gasps (mumbled discussions) at the mention of Stephen Strange (Rumours abound that Dr Strange may be the unlisted 2016 product,) the appearance of the unnamed Agent 13 (Sharon Carter – longterm comic love interest) and a certain quote from Ezekiel on a gravestone. Easter eggs yes but hardly a distraction to the story.

Is it a 2 hour crescendo of explodo-gasm with CGI replacing a strong narrative?

There are explosions. Some very good ones. Some very big ones. There are also some non-flammable moments. When Cap chases across the roof top it is more like Bourne than spandex. This is an espionage film that just happens to contain some BIG BANGY ramifications to the choices the characters make. It’s a SHIELD movie more than a mask and flag film.

You lost me there. Explain?

The narrative focusses more on clever solutions than by solving the problem through pulling on a mask and hitting something hard. In the first reel Cap throws off his mask before indulging in some Streetfighter II style kicky-punchy with baddy number one.

This is a rubbish explanation…

Patience. The important bit was the whole chucking the mask aside bit. A lot of the story relies on the idea of masks and intentions. This is a story with deceit woven into it. It may seem a clumsy metaphor but there is a lovely echo in reel 3…

So there is an element of cleverness somewhere?

The story impacts on the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. There is actually greater purpose to the film in the context that it will affect other properties on-screen. If you watch the TV show Marvel’s Agents of Shield then this film sits in between the last episode you saw and the next. It probably also means that pitching season 2 of that show may have been quite difficult prior to the movie release.

No happy ending then?

Yes and no. Remember how all 2nd franchise movies tend to be better than the first? This has the Empire Strikes Back factor. It’s not a lock up the bad guy, let’s all have a cuppa and start again type story.

What about the acting?

These are comic book characters – what are you expecting? Everyone who wishes they could get time back after watching Green Lantern will know that this is point and speak stuff, right? Actually this is a tightly directed ensemble. Chris Evans plays the “less is more” type of lead, tipping a nod to the muscle stereotype with a gratuitous vest scene. If anything the show is stolen by a superb Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) who probably deserves a character film of her own and Samuel L. Jackson as a grumpy and belligerent Nick Fury.

Should I go? 

If you enjoy the whole super-hero thing then you probably already went. If you are reading this and want to go enjoy a couple of hours of well put together action story then yeah I would. I actually paid to go and didn’t mind. Did I like it? Yes I did. I went with the wife. She liked it. A lot. She went home and spent the weekend reading the comic books.

My name is John Seedhouse and I am a 40+ year old who reads comics…

I talk rubbish on twitter @Leftlung post stuff on Google Plus

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