Spoiler Warning – to paraphrase Elvis Costello “Spoilers will happen…” I am going to blather on incessantly telling you about what goes on this movie. I’ll talk about the plot, the characters, the whiz-bang effects and maybe even the big pivotal moment (hint: probably involves a beefy dude and an explosion). If you are worried about learning something about this movie that you would rather not learn, then stop reading and skip down to the final verdict part of this post. If you are at all concerned that I might let it slip that the Winter Soldier referenced in the title is an operative for the Cold Miser whose mission is to eliminate the Winter Warlock and put a mind control devise on Kris Kringle so that he alienates Jessica and drives her into the waiting arms of the Cold Miser, then you should have stopped reading a while ago. Anyway, spoilers may happen. You are warned.
Summary – If I need to explain who Capt America is, then you are in the wrong spot. Go see the first movie to get up to speed. Go ahead, I’ll wait. And if you haven’t seen the Avengers movie, then go watch that one to because it is relevant.
You’re back? Good. So, in this film Cap is shown to be having issues acclimatizing himself to modern life and, surprisingly, to his new job in SHIELD. His inherent goodness and boy scout demeaner is not comfortable with Nick Fury’s Nick Furyness. On a rescue mission he gets his chisled jaw out of line when Black Widow has a different objective than the rest of the team. Back home, he confronts both Black Widow and Fury, but gets no satisfaction. Meanwhile we learn that Nick Fury is keeping significant secrets and they worry him. Not to tell it all but Nick get killed (yes, comic book killed), SHIELD gets compromised, and there are lots and lots of explosions over our nation’s capital.
The Good – There were plenty of things I liked about this movie. This movie has just about the best, most realistic action sequences of any comic book movie. Now note that I did not say that the action was realistic in the absolute sense, but realistic for a comic movie. The action was believable enough to be fun and let you feel like the heroes were actually in danger (this is ignoring the Cap-escape-across-the-bridge sequence). The plot pace is very good, fast enough to keep me interested yet slow enough to actually explain what needed to be explained. I enjoyed the little touched that showed how Cap was a media figure, I just would have liked for it to play with that idea a bit more. Finally, I like the tone of this movie just like I liked the tone of the first one. It is earnest without being corny. It’s a nice change in a movie today.
The Bad – This is a comic book movie, so some of what I am going to call Bad is simply the genre. That being said, these things can be done better and until a comic book movie does them better they will still be second class cinema.
Dialog – Ugh. I can live with dialog not being meaningful, but it had at least better be quipy and delivered well. The only person who can deliver a line in this film is Nick Fury, and he seems to be refusing to do so in this film. So, we are left with Cap who cannot quip because, well, he’s Cap. We have Black Widow, who would be perfect to quip if it were not for the lifeless performance by the actress.
Black Widow – Cap could be an interesting character but it isn’t necessary. Black Widow is an interesting character, but you wouldn’t know it from this film. The weak writing is done no favors by the disinterested and clueless acting. Fail and fail.
Villian – It’s nice to see Redford still getting work and he managed not to twirl his moustache, but it was a lost cause. From the first moment you knew he was the villain. And to add to that, people in charge of govt agencies are so often the villain that you’d think that if SuperHeroes really wanted to help society they would throw a coup and put good honest people in charge. That’s the comic book movie I want to see.
The Other – I probably could have listed these in the Bad section, but while they would be bad in a normal movie, this is a comic book movie. These are America’s version of Greek Myths. They define us, our hopes and fears, our ideals and our weaknesses. They are giant metaphors told by people who have wildly varying degrees of competence. That being said, these are the things that had me scratching my head during this film.
Why would you put your the chips that control your firing systems on the most vulnerable part of the flying ships? And not have them guarded?
They built a huge, huge underground complex that can open up in the Potomac and nobody knew about it? Thousands working down there and it’s a secret? It’s a huge ass swamp, just how well did that digging go? Where did all the dirt go?
So, a guy wearing a wing/jet pack combo capable of having him run with fighter jets can execute high G turns without blacking out? Without burning his legs off from the jets? With only goggles for protective gear?
Washington D.C. has two huge running gun battles in three days time and the streets are still open? No military swarming the streets? No checkpoints?
Final Verdict – For a me the final verdict on a movie is whether or not I an happy that I paid the money to see the film. That’s significant if you are hauling a family and springing for popcorn and drinks. For this movie, my answer is yes, this movie was worth the money. It didn’t change my life or make me consider the human condition differently, but it was entertaining without being insulting. Where does this fit in the pantheon of Marvel comics? It is below Avengers, Iron Man 1, and Cap America 1, and above the rest.