Marvel ushered in last summer with a stellar capstone to the “Iron Man” franchise. This year they do the same with the crux of the First Avenger’s franchise, “Captain America: the Winter Soldier.”
Being the third post-Avengers movie, and somewhat the last until 2015’s “The Avengers: Age of Ultron,” the sequel to 2011’s origin has much to connect and carry on from its precursors. And this is why the movie as a whole works so efficiently.
I won’t dive too much into the plot as the details are difficult to describe. But what the main premise is is that S.H.I.E.L.D. is compromised by some inside force. It’s up to the Cap (Chris Evans), the Widow (Scarlett Johansson), the Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and newcomer Sam “Falcon” Wilson (Anthony Mackie) to join to stop whatever and whoever is in the driver’s seat. A ghost-like assassin “The Winter Soldier” (Sebastian Stan) is a true match-up for the Captain who also shares similar histories with each other.
As you can tell by my difficulty from describing the intricacies of the plot, it’s not that simple. And that so happens to be my one and only complaint. As with other Marvel movies, they writers and characters are not afraid of talking over your heads. They trust the audience to keep up. But someone like me, who unpurposefully neglects detail, can and will get lost in it. Not that I didn’t follow the connections, I just didn’t understand fully how they connected. That’s more my fault than anyone else’s.
Much of that has to do with the content of the film which is political sabotage. It’s not really my forte. Yet, the subject matter is one with many characters’ allegiances, places and plot points. It’s easy to get lost in. But once the filmmakers make this decision to go this direction, you can’t glide over it. And that’s what writers Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely and Ed Brubaker do. The writing is sophisticated and tight and whippy. It’s definitely the thickest of all Marvel installments.
What I loved about “Captain America: the First Avenger” was the cinematography. It had this old picture filter on each frame that made me feel like I was hopping into a memory of a WWII vet. With “The Winter Soldier” it does quite the opposite. Captain America is now in the Marvel future and the look reflects it. The color palette has this shine to it which helps us escape from the gritty future we are so used to.
Along with the political intrigue comes the action. Directors Anthony and Joe Russo (who launched into this from directing some episodes of “Community” which is my favorite sitcom) show the action clear and deliberate. Every move of these super-human heroes is like watching an intense match of rock-paper-scissors. And each action scene means something. There are stakes and risk involved. They made me believe that anyone could have died at any time.
And on that same note: a lot of unknowns did die. If this hadn’t been a PG-13 Disney/Marvel family popcorn-munching event movie, there would have been a lot of blood and more violence. But since it’s only “implied” they can get away with it.
A second viewing is definitely required, especially for one like me. I think knowing the full picture will help me appreciate the writing even more. But overall “The Winter Soldier” doesn’t fall short of its hype.
Man, am I chomping at the bit for August’s “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Avengers 2” and even “Ant-Man.” Keeping bringing the quality Marvel and I’ll keeping showing up.
Rating: Very Good.
What did you think? Could you follow the plot details easily or did you really have to lean in to listen?
Next up: Transcendence. (or Grand Budapest Hotel if I can get to it.)