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Captain America: The Winter Soldier - Spoiler-free review

Nathan Strum

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10:52 PM

 

Sitting in a theater with just two other people (two more went to get snacks) waiting for the 11:00 PM show to start. I'd planned to go to the 10:00, but didn't get out of work in time. So stay tuned for the review - coming later tonight! Looking forward to the film. The reviews have been really positive. I guess I'll know in just over two hours.

 

Hey - two more people! We've got a crowd! Time to post this, then shut 'er down.

 

 

8 movie trailers and two-plus hours later…

 

That was excellent! Definitely the best solo Marvel superhero movie since Iron Man.

 

Now, if you happen to follow this blog regularly (or irregularly, I don't judge), you'd probably notice that there wasn't a review for Thor: The Dark World.

 

That's because I didn't go see it. That, or The Wolverine.

 

I just wasn't very interested in the Thor sequel. I thought the first Thor film was okay, and I thought Thor worked really well in The Avengers. But even though I was a fan of Walt SimOnson's run on Thor, that was 25+ years ago, and the trailers just didn't do much for me. That said, I did rent it a couple of weeks ago on iTunes, and actually thought it was pretty good.

 

Still haven't seen The Wolverine. Guess I should rent that before the next X-Men movie comes out.

 

Anyway… back to this film.

 

Now, the problem with writing a spoiler-free review for this film, is that every website on the planet has already spilled one of the big spoilers of the film. But if you've followed comic books at all in recent years, you already knew the story behind the Winter Soldier. I did when they announced the movie title. For that matter, I figured it was coming when I watched the first Captain America movie.

 

So I wasn't surprised at that. Consequently, that part of the film was rather anti-climactic (although it would be a big reveal for those not in-the-know, and was played up in the film as such).

 

What surprised me though, was everything else in the film.

 

Oh sure, there were a few things that were predictable in a comic-book-tradition sort-of-way, but I was really pleased to not know where the film was going for most of the time. I really didn't see some of the major plot twists coming, and a few scenes just completely came out-of-the-blue. Rarely in movies anymore do I get to enjoy a "WHAT?! NO WAY!!" moment, like a couple in this film. Even when predictable moments did happen, they were handled really well.

 

The movie hit all the right buttons for me. It explored Cap's character well, but also finally, really showed off how formidable of an opponent he is. I really liked Cap when I was into comics, and they managed to capture his personality much better here than in his first movie or The Avengers. This is Captain America.

 

The Falcon makes his debut here and really works well (probably not an easy character to translate to the big screen, but mercifully the red spandex and bird sidekick didn't make the trip), and we get a good dose of the Black Widow too (and a striking contrast between her style and Cap's early in the film). But unmistakably, Cap is the star of the film and the driving force behind the story.

 

The supporting cast (particularly Robert Redford) get their moments to shine, and there are a several cool appearances by other familiar Marvel characters.

 

The action is absolutely first-rate. And it's smart action, too. It has purpose behind it. Unlike, say, The Dark Knight Rises. Frankly, the Captain America of this film would completely embarrass the Batman of that film. I've never really felt like we've seen Batman on screen yet the way that character deserved it (the Joker - yes). Captain America: TWS should serve notice to DC that they've got their work cut out for them with Batman vs. Superman.

 

The special effects are, as seems to be the case for most big-budget films these days, excellent. There are a handful of shots where the CGI stunt doubles don't quite work, but they're few and far-between.

 

I can't really go into much detail about the movie without breaking my no-spoiler policy. Suffice it to say, the movie has pretty-much everything going for it. Subterfuge, action, heart, humor, solid acting, surprises, and some game-changing twists that are going to shake things up in the Marvel movie universe.

 

I'm sitting on about 15 DVR'd episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Guess I'd better start working my way through them.

 

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a winner. I'm looking forward to the next one. Go see it.

 

And sit through the credits.

 

Cap gets a vibranium-solid 9/10.

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Definitely agree that more agent Hill would be a good thing.

 

His criticisms are well-taken, but I don't think the movie's problems are any more patently ridiculous than most action movie plots.

 

It's a comic book movie, after all.

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I just saw this movie this past Wednesday evening and really enjoyed it myself. Was never actually into the Captain, but I have grown to like the current movies. Now, if only I HAD a DVR to record Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The new manager at the store seems to like working me 5pm to 9pm on Tueday evenings. :(

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I think one of the interesting themes in CA2 is Cap's struggle with being part of SHIELD - a "shadow military" organization. Cap was much more at peace during WW2 - taking on a well defined enemy & objective. As he said during the opening mission "I'm getting tired of being Fury's janitor." (Hmmm... and what does that make the Winter Soldier...)

 

 

 

How the heck did the Avengers / SHEILD let Loki's "spear" get away? Especially considering the care for cleanup they show in the TV series.

 

 

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I've all-but stopped buying movies anymore. Usually I only look for older, rarer ones that pop up and then seem to disappear forever, so you have to grab them when you have the chance (or those that I really want to see the bonus material for).

 

Wreck-It Ralph may have been the most recent one. Otherwise, the last one I can remember getting was the Criterion Collection edition of It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World. I own none of the Marvel superhero movies, since Fox runs them just about every other week.

 

With everything ending up on Netflix sooner or later, I usually just wait until they show up there, or I'll rent something on iTunes if I'm impatient. I'd considered buying the Clone Wars series on Blu-ray, but now that's on Netflix, too. The quality definitely takes a hit, but I rarely go back and watch the DVDs or Blu-rays I own now. (But if they ever remaster Monty Python's Flying Circus and put it on Blu-ray, sign me up!)

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Finally caught up on my backlog of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episodes. It was interesting watching them already having known what was going to happen in Captain America TWS, since I began second-guessing who was good or bad much earlier (episodically) than I probably would have otherwise. Looking forward to the finale this week, and glad to see the series has been renewed for next season. Plus, more Hayley Atwell (as Agent Carter) is never a bad thing.

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The season finale of Agents of S.H.I.E.LD. was excellent! Lots of great action, good writing, plot resolutions and open doors for next year. Nice gratuitous use of power tools, too.

 

As an aside, the building that doubled for the exteriors of Cybertek is a former Lockheed facility in Santa Clarita that temporarily housed some of CalArts (where I was a student at the time) after the 1994 Northridge earthquake.

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