Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Tonight's Movie: Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

Having enjoyed Marvel's CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER (2011) on the Fourth of July, I was interested in trying the next film in the series. I saw it a little sooner than I expected I'd be able to, since my husband discovered our cable system offered it in free HD streaming.

As was explained at the end of CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER, Captain America (Chris Evans) was frozen for decades (hey, it's based on a comic book!) and is now fighting crime in our modern era. And he's got plenty of crime to fight, since HYDRA, the villains he fought during WWII, have infiltrated and taken over the crime-fighting organization SHIELD. This means it's almost impossible to tell the bad guys from the good guys.

Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), the head of SHIELD, tells Steve, aka Captain America, not to trust anyone, but Steve does put his trust in the Black Widow, Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), and the Falcon, aka Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), as well as Agent Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders). It's up to them to save Nick Fury -- and the world!

Along for the ride are a rather haggard-looking Robert Redford playing a higher-up at SHIELD and Emily Van Camp (BROTHERS AND SISTERS) as Steve's next-door neighbor, an innocent-looking nurse; each could be friend or foe.

The climatic battle sequence in particular is a little too heavy on the CGI look, but most movies are guilty of that these days, and CAPTAIN AMERICA at least has characters with heart to go with the fake-looking action sequences. (Honestly, at times CGI is more phony than old-fashioned back projections.) Steve is a genuinely good person, as illustrated by his moving visit to an aged and ill Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), not to mention his dealings with an old friend turned enemy.

Some of the appeal of the Captain America films is that they present very strong female characters in Agent Carter and the Black Widow. I really enjoyed Steve's verbal jousting with the sassy Black Widow, and, being new to Marvel films, I was amazed to learn there isn't a stand-alone Black Widow movie. At least Agent Carter got a TV series! My daughter sent me the link to a very creative title sequence someone created for a mythical Black Widow movie; it's James Bond-ish and perfect!

The CAPTAIN AMERICA movies may be super high tech, but I'm also amused by how much they remind me of GENERAL HOSPITAL (where no one ever really dies!) as well as my beloved '40s "B" mystery series, with continuing characters solving a new problem in each film.

Once again, the film's biggest flaw is that CAPTAIN AMERICA is shortchanged in the music department. It's a crime these movies were released with the cinematic equivalent of Muzak for background scores. Soaring theme music would have added a lot.

I've enjoyed the two CAPTAIN AMERICA films enough that I'll keep going and try another. I'm told by my family that before I back up to watch Captain America and the Black Widow appear in THE AVENGERS (2012) I need to watch IRON MAN (2008) first...

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER was directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo. It was filmed by Trent Opaloch. The movie runs 136 minutes.

Parental Advisory: CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER is rated PG-13 for intense action sequences.

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD.


Blogger john knight said...

Hi Laura,

Sorry I missed your tenth anniversary celebrations BTW!

While in London last year one thing I wanted to do was see a
Popcorn Movie on the big screen.
CAPTAIN AMERICA:THE WINTER SOLDIER fitted the bill perfectly
and I really enjoyed it.

I thought Hayley Atwell looked rather nice even as a 93
year old!

5:53 AM  
Blogger Ed South said...

Black Widow is actually in Iron Man 2. The whole series is fun though since all 12 films interconnect, reference or set up other films in the Marvel Universe.

7:35 AM  
Blogger Kristina Dijan said...

Evans is great casting for Cap, and I found this one very 007-ish. Seeing you get into these makes a comic nerd like me happy. As you go further it'll be fun to see which characters you get hooked on. Good comparison to GH, that's exactly why I loved reading all these (X-Men is the biggest soap of all).

3:40 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

John, love thaty ou went and saw this one on a big screen! That's fun. I hadn't realized Hayley Atwell would be in this before it started! I'm really glad now I recorded AGENT CARTER. :)

Thanks, Ed, I'm looking forward to checking more out.

Kristina, it's so funny, I just read an article about GH in TV Guide and learned they just resurrected Frank Smith, the mafia kingpin who died back in Luke & Laura days, as well as another character. LOL. Needless to say I immediately thought of what I'd written here comparing CAPTAIN AMERICA to soaps (grin). I definitely enjoy the sort of soapy echoes of a show like that which are found in this film series; the long history is part of what makes a soap fun (granted, I haven't watched it for decades now), and I can see how that history and the "interconnectedness" which Ed mentions make this series fun.

Best wishes,

3:53 PM  

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