Movie Review: Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Chris Evans, Scarlett Johannson in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”

By Kimberly Gadette (doddleNEWS)

Sometimes the Marvel universe isn’t as Marvelous as we’ve come to expect. While Captain America: The Winter Soldier packs more punch – literally – than most comic-based action movies, it could have been far more enjoyable if there had been a compelling story to go along with all the sound and fury.

Speaking of fury, ol’ eye patch-wearing Samuel L. Jackson is back as S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury, along with Scarlett Johansson as Natasha/Black Widow. These two characters, along with Anthony Mackie as Captain America’s new buddy Sam Wilson/Falcon, bring a few crumbs of spirit to this otherwise steroidal fist-fest.

To catch up: At the end of the first movie, 2011′s Captain America: The First Avenger, Chris Evans’ Steve Rogers/Captain America (referred to as “Cap”) wakes up from a 70-year deep freeze. It’s now two years later and Cap is living in Washington, D.C., working with Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. But he’s still having a hard time adjusting to the 21st century. He finds an understandable kinship with Mackie’s Sam, a modern-day war veteran who counsels other servicemen who are attempting to acclimate back into society. When a lethal threat arises (oh, doesn’t it always?), Cap has to face a masked villain who’s a similar super-human specimen. It turns out that while Cap was enjoying a three-and-a-half decade long slumber, Sebastian Stan’s half-masked Winter Soldier had been making a career in dealing out death and destruction.

Excuse me, but Winter Soldier is no Bane who’s forced to rely on his mask to survive. Here, the premise is ridiculous: If any sane human being had a lifelong friend, and that friend showed up wearing a black mask that covered the lower half of his face, wouldn’t the eyes, forehead and physicality be instantly recognizable? Especially since this masked, um, stranger, hasn’t aged whatsoever? Cap may have been in a coma, but there’s no indication that he awoke with dementia to boot.

Sebastian Stan as The Winter Soldier in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”

This muddy screenplay represents the work of Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely, creators of the far superior original. (That said, this sequel features different directors; instead of the first film’s helming by Joe Johnston, this sophomore version is directed by brothers Anthony and Joe Russo.) And speaking of brothers: the trope of good versus evil siblings or best friends isn’t exactly new to the superhero universe. Think Thor v. Loki, Logan/Wolverine v. Victor/Sabretooth and Peter Parker/Spider-Man v. Harry Osborn/New Goblin.

While this reviewer will not engage in spoilers, it bears mentioning that many story details have been given short shrift over the mind-numbing assault of assault.

But we can still love the hero: Chris Evans plays the Dudley Do-Right-esque super man with appropriate sincerity, answering to his own impeccable sense of square-jawed incorruptibility. As his crime-fighting partner, Natasha’s moral nonchalance brings a fine balance. Debuting as Falcon, Mackie’s breezy humor – ultimately fused with unwavering support – makes for a welcome addition.

On the other side of the spectrum, Robert Redford as the head of the World Security Council looks increasingly awkward as his character is obligated to give one rambling speech after another. As for The Winter Soldier, he is as bland as he is masked — bringing home the point that unless the enemy reveals some kind of character, we simply can’t care.

Sure, there are a gazillion effects and lots of bullets, kicks, fiery explosions and impossibly airborne flights and fights … but rather than delivering a bit of wit, along with a finely attuned story, this sequel presents us with a project that’s much more akin to a video game.

Given the beloved 2012′s The Avengers, as well as the rest of the recent movies populating the Marvel galaxy, starting with 2008′s Iron Man, it seems that Captain America: The Winter Soldier could have benefited from an injection of the aforementioned iron. Anemic? Steve Rogers that.

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Rating on a scale of 5 Winter Soldiers of Misfortune: 2.5

Release date: April 4, 2014
Directed by: Anthony and Joe Russo
Screenplay by: Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely
Cast: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Cobie Smulders, Frank Grillo, Emily VanCamp, Hayley Atwell, with Robert Redford and Samuel L. Jackson
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 136 minutes

Here’s the trailer:

About Kimberly Gadette

Film critic Kimberly Gadette, born and raised in movie-centric L.A., believes celluloid may very well be a part of her DNA. Having received her BA and MFA from UCLA's School of Theater, Film & Television, she spent many of her formative years as an actress (film, tv, commercials, stage) before she literally changed perspective, finding a whole new POV from the other side of the camera. You can find her last 450+ reviews on Rotten Tomatoes (www.rottentomatoes.com/critic/kimberly-gadette/). Other than taking the occasional side trip to Cannes or Sundance, you can find her at the movies ... sitting in the dark as usual.

Comments

  1. Heath McKnight says:

    Kimberly enjoyed Iron Man 3:

    http://news.doddleme.com/news-room/movie-review-iron-man-3/

    Which I did not, and I’m a massive Iron Man fan, going back nearly 30 years. She also enjoyed The Avengers:

    http://news.doddleme.com/news-room/movie-review-the-avengers/

    While I enjoyed Captain America 2 a lot, I understand where she’s coming from., and always respect and enjoy here reviews.

    And as a comic book nerd, I, too, am passionate about my favorite characters and their movies. Thanks for commenting everyone!

    heath

  2. Briggs says:

    Really. It is unfortunate you got stuck reviewing a film “that many story details have been given short shrift over the mind-numbing assault of assault.” It is obvious you are not a comic fan. It is your opinion. The sequel brought in over 96 million in the first weekend. I enjoyed it. It is obvious you did not. Maybe you should have reviewed some other movie again like The Grand Budapest Hotel. Instead of being stuck with one “you” simply can’t care.

  3. sakara says:

    the bad reviews for this..thing….seem more interesting than the movie.

    I will eventually see this…thing—-when a one dollar dvd is for sale on ebay.

  4. Garry Wood says:

    Although you have a duty to be honest with your opinions within your reviewing, your review here does raise some interesting points about what exactly you would call a good film.
    When I read a review that is so utterly out of step with all other reviews and indeed general opinion, I do question the quality of opinion of the author. It would appear that everything you experienced while watching this film was the direct reverse of the experiences of other watchers…
    Weird

  5. Joel says:

    You can’t be serious. You realize that the things you are criticizing are directly adapted from the comic book?!?!?! You can’t fault Comic Book Movie for filling it’s SOURCE MATERIAL. Oh, and calling the story unconpelling is way out in left field as The Winter Soldier is one of the most emotional and complex arcs of all time. It’s impossible to not be intrigued. And yes, I have seen the movie. But whatever, your opinion is your opinion.

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