Tuesday, April 08, 2014

"Captain America: The Winter Soldier" (2014)

So... when I go to see a movie that is subtitled "The Winter Soldier," I kind of expect that said soldier will be an integral part of the plot.  And, I'm afraid, I was left feeling like if they had pulled Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) out of the movie and thus trimmed 45 minutes and several action scenes, this movie could have been awesome.

Alternatively, if they wanted to focus on Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) coming to grips with confronting the last vestiges of his past, and trimmed out all the conspiracy stuff, this movie could have been extraordinary.

But nope, they tried to do both, and wound up with an okay movie.  I'd say I liked it as well as Captain America:  The First Avenger and Iron Man 2.  Too unfocused for me to love, but containing enough character goodness to make me want to see it again.  I'll probably wait for DVD for that, though.  Unless a friend wants to see it with me or something.

And I did really like so much of what went on with the characters!  I just wish the movie as a whole had worked better.  For instance -- all that shaky-cam nonsense.  Don't people remember The Bourne Identity (2002) and how the camera waltzed slowly and serenely around Jason Bourne as he decimated his foes with lightning-fast hand-to-hand stuff?  This movie could have used a similar approach.  I know the shaky-cam is supposed to make us feel like we're in the middle of the action, but I'd like to see all those fastidiously choreographed fights, not just get a glimpse here and there.  Sigh.

But about those characters...

(SPOILAGE from here on out.)


First, Nick Fury.  Wow, so much Nick Fury in this!  It was cool to see him take a more active role, even have some action scenes.  I thought for a little while that it was going to turn out someone had been messing with his brain and using him as a puppet without his knowledge, but that's not where they chose to go.  Oh well.


Then we have Agent Romanoff.  She goes through quite the metamorphosis here, doesn't she?  Being willing to let her entire history be public knowledge as part of taking down the bad guys -- I kind of thought she'd balk at that.  Good for her.  And I was amused by all her attempts to hook Cap up with various women.  The Black Widow as a matchmaker is incongruous enough to make me chuckle.  (And I'm seriously considering dying my hair the same color as hers.)


I quite liked Sam Wilson/Falcon (Anthony Mackie).  He was snarky and solid, and I really hope they make another movie about him and Cap, because the two of them together was great fun.  And I'd love a pair of those wings.


But of course, I need to talk about Cap himself.  I love that he's grappling with modern life, starting to accept the world around him a little.  And I love how loyal this guy is.  I could have handled a little more character growth -- he's still pretty much the same Cap by the end that he was at the beginning, determined to save Bucky whether he wants to be saved or not, dedicated to always doing the right thing... not that any of that is bad.  In fact, it's a lot of why I love him, but... it does feel a little static.


I think the biggest happy surprise for me in the whole movie was having Alan Dale pop up as a member of the World Security Council.  Weirdly, imdb.com lists him as uncredited, and yet, his name was in the credits.  Huh. Anyway, he was Charles Widmore on Lost and then on NCIS as Director and then the head of Homeland Security, both of which would make for really fun cross-over stories, hee.


Of course, it was quite cool to have Robert Redford in the movie too.  It made me want to go rewatch The Natural (1984) and The Sting (1973).

I was rather disappointed that there was absolutely zero mention of Agent Barton.  I mean, he's listed as being in Avengers:  Age of Ultron next summer, so it would be nice to have heard something about him, even just Natasha on the phone and you know that's who she's talking to.  She was so concerned about him in The Avengers that it feels a little weird that she didn't even mention him.  After what happened to Erik Selvig in Thor:  The Dark World, I was kind of expecting there'd be a mention of Hawkeye working on getting his brain unscrambled completely or something.  Oh well again.


Oh, I should say something about Bucky Barnes, shouldn't I?  I liked the final stinger after the credits, and I could get behind him being a sort of lost soul trying to reclaim his humanity.  Could really dig that.

24 comments:

  1. You know, that was one of the first things I said when I got out... I thought this movie was going to be about the Winter Soldier. And he was just a glorified henchman. What the? Did I miss something? Remove him and nothing is lost from the main focus of the movie.

    I did like the conspiracy stuff and loved all the characters, particularly Falcon. And I think overall, I might have liked it better than you a wee bit. But dude, I will not watch this movie again, and that makes me sooooooo angry. It's like Quantum of Solace all over again. The shaky cam stuff? RUINED THIS MOVIE. L and I had to keep looking away from the screen, which of course pulls us out of the movie, and made the movie feel longer than it should have. I could never immerse. Even in still moments, that camera was jostling or spinning around someone. How can you have a movie with all that snazzy fight choreography and then not let your audience actually, you know, see what's happening to enjoy the fights? Thank goodness the last two Marvel films, IM3 and Thor 2, didn't have that problem. Or Avengers.

    And it's too bad cuz Chris Evans was fantastic in this one, I thought. I'd have gone to see it again, if it hadn't been filmed the way it was.

    My favorite part, the part that made me smile the most? Thomas Kretschmann in the first tag! I knew his voice instantly and just started grinning and grinning. I didn't do that the whole rest of the movie.

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    1. So we both had a little surprise random person pop up! So funny.

      And yeah, Chris Evans was so solid in this -- I wanted the movie as a whole to match the caliber of acting going on. When will filmmakers learn they need to focus! Focus the story and focus the blasted cameras.

      Actually, it feels to me in both this one and the first Cap movie that the filmmakers don't know quite what they want to do with him. They have a very strong bead on Iron Man and Thor, very consistent expectations and stuff there. But Cap... it's like they can't decide if they want him to be the unbending hero or the fish out of water or the ultimate patriot or the best advertisement for bodybuilding ever, and they keep bouncing back and forth.

      Was Joss Whedon's name anywhere on this? I thought he was credited in IM3 as like an overseeing producer or something, but I didn't see him anywhere on this. Might be very telling, that.

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  2. I agree with the shaky cam. And some of the CGI didn't work for me, either.

    I missed how Falcon got his wings. Did they explain that? It was like all of a sudden he was flying.

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    1. Yeah, they explained. They were being stored in some secure location, and Cap and Black Widow simply say that won't be a problem. The actual theft of them is not shown.

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    2. Remember when he handed Cap a manila folder with a bunch of stuff inside? Cap looks at it and says, "I thought you were a pilot." Then like Deb says, Falcon tells him there's one left and Natasha implies she's going to go get it. So he'd used the wings previously, particularly the night his buddy was killed in action.

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    3. Ok thanks for refreshing my memory. That prolly could have been explained a bit better for someone like me unfamiliar with the Falcon character prior to this movie.

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    4. I wasn't familiar with him either, actually.

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  3. Aw, I love this one! I thought it was a nice improvement over The First Avenger... but it was very strange how little the Winter Soldier was in a movie called The Winter Soldier! And some of the conspiracy stuff just made the movie too long, so I could have done with less of that too.

    Out of the three movies Cap has been in though, I think this one handled his character the best. I agree he didn't grow much, but I didn't mind because I feel like they only just figured out exactly who he is, and now he'll be able to grow from here. :D

    I absolutely adored Cap and Natasha's dynamic. They're so fun and brilliant together. And that running joke of finding Cap a girl... hehe, so good!

    Good review Hamlette!

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    1. First Avenger was a little more focused, I think -- I'm going to have to revisit it soon to see. It went off the rails toward the end and got cartoony (she says about a movie based on a comic book) and silly, IIRC.

      Cap was so great in this, though -- you're right. I'll watch it again on DVD just for how sweet and wonderful he was.

      Thanks!

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    2. I could be mistaken, but didn't someone call Captain America a "winder soldier" at some point in the film? If so, then the title would have a double meaning, right?

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    3. Did someone? That's cool! Cuz I actually have this theory about Cap being the real Winter Soldier. First off, the whole title of the first movie -- Captain America: The First Avenger -- referred to Cap, so it would make sense that the whole title of the second movie referred to him too. Maybe I'll do a post about my theory some time.

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  4. I enjoyed this film, but like you, I felt it was too long and the action sequences were too drawn out. I'm really not a fan of the guy who runs SHIELD so spending such a big chunk of time with him at the start of the film was kinda "meh" for me. But I liked the social commentary (anti-spying, anti-big government, be wary of technology, don't sacrifice freedom for security) and Steve, as always, was a stand-up, all-American ISFJ. Lovely man. Great character. Have to say, though -- Natasha is freaking fabulous. I adore her.

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    1. I think multiple car chases in one movie are really not a good thing. Smacks of desperation, to be honest. I liked the one with Nick Fury, but then we had more car chases, and more and more and... I almost got bored.

      And Natasha is sooooo cool. As soon as I get better, I really do think I'll dye my hair dark red.

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    2. I didn't get bored, but I was close to it a few times. I like character development more than action scenes (although, I like those too) -- give my Fe something to chew on, you know?

      Natasha is fab. You should dye your hair red. It tempted me, that's for sure! Mine's not quite that long yet though...

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    3. Yeah, I'm so with you on the need for character development. That's what I soooooo needed more of here.

      My hair is more than twice as long as hers in this movie -- down past my waist -- and it takes at least 2 boxes of dye. My son is freaking out at the thought and insisting I should never do something so terrifying (he's 6), but I happen to know I look pretty good with red hair (my natural brunette has red highlights as it is), so I think I'll maybe try a semi-permanent one first. That way if he wigs out I can assure him it'll be gone in a couple weeks.

      BTW, love your new user pic!!!

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  5. Well, I have to say that, diehard Thor-girl that I try to be, I went into Winter Soldier with a open mind, and I LOVED IT. I thought it had some great character development--also loved how we got a little bit more into Nat's story--and the action kept me on the edge of my seat. But you do bring up a good point about Bucky not playing a huge part. Oh, and I have to say that it was heartbreaking watching that final fight between Cap and Bucky. :/

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    1. I'm glad you loved it! I see how it would please a lot of people, just not me.

      And that final fight was great, for sure. Poor, dear Cap.

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  6. Oh, I loved the final after-credits scene in the Air and Space museum! I'm sorry you didn't like The Winter Soldier as much. Natasha trying to hook up Steve was pretty funny. :)

    xx

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    1. That second stinger was wonderful! I can't wait to see where they go with that.

      I liked it okay -- I think my review here came off harsher than I'd intended. I mostly just feel like they don't quite know what they want or need of a Cap movie, whereas the Iron Man and Thor movies are clear on their agendas. But maybe that just reflects Cap's own confusion about what his role in modern life might be?

      I love that Natasha never suggested she go out with Cap herself. They behaved very much like coworkers who would have this same conversation whether they were both guys or both girls, or if their genders were reversed. It was quite cool.

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  7. I am extremely against shaky-cam, but even watching the film in 3D, I barely noticed any use of shaky-cam. I would have to do further comparison, but I thought this movie used the shaky-cam effect less than the Bourne Identity.

    Redford was so good wasn't he? And I like the two movies you mentioned, The Natural and The Sting, as well as my personal favorite, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

    I agree, not mentioning Barton at was the only thing that I did not like. I kept waiting for an arrow to flyby to help Cap or Natasha during the big fight. I really wish something brief like that happened or they said something about him not being around. Also, excellent point about Erik in The Dark World. I did not even think of that! But, Natasha did have a arrow on her necklace.

    -James

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    1. Certainly less shaky-cam than The Bourne Supremacy, and probably on par with The Bourne Ultimatum, but there wasn't much shaky-cam at all in The Bourne Identity, especially during the hand-to-hand fight scenes. This wasn't quite as bad as Quantum of Solace, which was so badly filmed I often couldn't tell who was who. Here I could tell who was who, but not always what was happening, which is annoying.

      Redford was such fun -- I loved the sly little smile he turned on now and then.

      Yes, I did notice Natasha's arrow necklace -- better than nothing!

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  8. Sorry this one didn't work as well for you, Hamlette - I loved it way better than the first movie but then Steve is (overall) my favorite Avenger. ;)

    Three cheers for Natasha's awesome-ness - she's so cool. And go for that hair dye. Mine is colored auburn right now (love it) but I'm still trying to find the "perfect" shade. Ideally, hers would be. :)

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    1. Oh, Iiked this better than the first Cap movie too! Just not as well as I'd hoped. But still cool.

      I keep meaning to post a pic of my hair. I'll try to do it today!

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    2. Saw your picture - love the shade. :)

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