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MOVIE REVIEW: Marvel Ices Another Epic Blockbuster with Captain America: The Winter Soldier

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The shield that can do it all… except make me look like Chris Evans.

 

For an outlaw, I’m a pretty old-fashioned fella.  Hence my use of words that prevailed as being popular somewhere between the cretaceous and Jurassic periods of the earth’s history.  In addition to being a bit more of a traditional gent, I’m also a fairly patriotic guy, so it isn’t hard to understand why I have a bit of a soft for good ol’ Captain America.

Cap isn’t one of those angst-ridden teen superheroes, nor is he some result of a Bill Nye science experiment gone awry.  Simply put, he was a normal guy with a good heart that just wanted to do right by innocent people.  Yes, the super-serum he was injected with helped his cause, but it was something HE asked for unlike most superhero types who have the burden of responsibility thrust upon them.  With the exception of having to fight his best friend to the death – and who here hasn’t ever had do that – Rogers is a good guy with a good head on his incredibly ripped and superhuman shoulders; but more on that later.

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“You tell anyone I enjoyed the Green Lantern movie and your a dead woman. You follow?!”

 

Despite my love for Mr. America, I must confess I was a bit late to the party with Marvel’s first film offering of the red, white and blue hero seeing as I only partook in a showing of it for the first time on DVD a good 12 months after its theatrical release.  I didn’t want to make the same mistake with the sequel however, thus I dragged along my movie-going nerd companion Erika “The Spunk Destructor” to the local cinema to take in a showing of Captain America: The Winter Solider during it’s opening week in theaters. 

Thanks to my internal fortitude, the early screening paid off as I felt this was one of the best stand-alone marvel character movies released… ever.  Am I crazy?  Do I even need to ask?  However, am I still right?  In this case I very may well be, although a blind squirrel does find a nut every now and again.

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As is now ritual, I will first provide a brief summary sans spoilers for those whom have yet to partake in the latest chapter of Marvel’s American flag bearer.   One of the things Marvel continues to excel at is maintaining continuity across all of their film and television properties.  The Winter Solider is no different as it picks up with the life of Steve Rogers () after the events of The Avengers and Thor 2: The Dark World. 

As the film opens, Rogers still finds himself fighting alongside the forces of SHIELD, the anagram of which I don’t have the memory capacity to recall at the moment.  More importantly, he also finds himself fighting beside the likes of SHIELD agent Natasha Romanoff (aka The Black Widow) played again, albeit this time with a bit more humorous zeal, by the every shapely .  If I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, there are worse things a male-based life form could do with 136 minutes than watch Johansson bounce around in a tight black pleather outfit on a 60 foot tall screen, but I digress…

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Your telling me Captain America was in the movie too?

 

Early on, Mr. America is called upon to rescue some SHIELD hostages, but as he later discovers, there was more at stake than just some run-of-the-mill life-saving.  It isn’t long before Cap finds himself entrenched in a Michael Moore sized conspiracy, and teams up with Black Widow and his morning running buddy Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) to root out a prospective bad seed within the SHIELD organization.

One of the elements this Outlaw liked best about The Winter Solider was the fact it played heavily on the current political issue of how to balance personal freedom with protection from foreign threats in our ever evolving digital world.  There is no doubt that this Captain America installment was meant to feel more like a political thriller, and that makes a whole lot of sense when taking into account the patriotic nature of the central hero of which this movie is about.  Unless my eyesight has truly gone to hell, the title of the movie is Captain America, not The Care Bears.

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“Wonder if anyone will notice I had Mexican for lunch.”

 

The relatively more realistic nature of the subject matter in comparison to other Marvel heroes such as Thor, gives The Winter Solider a more substantial feel.  When the threat is less god-like and more human in its representation, it definitely makes one take a second to think more deeply about our own world and the fears that we truly face as a free people.  That is until the Captain survives a 500 foot fall from an elevator or manages to destroy a multimillion dollar hover-jet with only the use of his boomerang shield and bulging physique.

Nonetheless, it is the slightly more earth-bound fundamentals of Caps personal movieverse that give it that dash of realism that I tend to enjoy more in the sci-fi realm than the pure space odyssey or middle-earth type adventures.  Give me something I can relate to on a somewhat current time stream that even has the remote feel of being plausible, and I’m hooked like a 5 cent work on a $20 hook.  I’m not entirely sure what that means, but it sounds like an applicable metaphor so I’m just going to stick with it.

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Hook, line and stinker!
(Guess which one I am?)

 

Another component of The Winter Solider that I enjoyed immensely was how it inevitable setup events for Marvel’s second round of Whedon assemblage known as The Avengers: Age of Ultron.  Hell, forget about setup, this Captain America sequel had SHIELD playing such a large role, the entire film felt like The Avengers 1.5 rather than a standalone superhero story.  With Nick Fury (), Agent Hill (), Agent Sitwell () and the aforementioned Black Widow all eating up valuable screen time, this felt decidedly less like a Cap centric story.

That said, please don’t let my statement of the facts be confused with common place complaining – I do that plenty outside the blog – as I truly enjoyed the multi-faceted approach The Winter Solider took.  I mean come on, let’s face it, outside of a little guilt over what happened to his best friend Bucky Barnes () that he had no control over and a slight 70 year time adjustment, Rogers doesn’t really have any internal demons that he wrestles with on an hourly basis.  He’s a wholesome hero with nothing but good intentions, and this film is a playground that lets him put all of those outstanding attributes on display.  Speaking of SHIELD, the turn of events that takes place during the film should have an interesting impact on the events of Marvel’s red-headed TV stepchild, Agents of SHIELD.  That series has just finally started to get interesting, and this film might be just what that show needs to hit second gear.

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“Damn it, Cap had Mexican again for lunch!”

 

Keeping with the positive sentiments, another level in which this movie excelled was in its visual effects.  Captain America is not one of the flashier men in tights as his main claims to fame are superhuman strength, speed, vertical hops and indestructible shield that almost always comes back to his side like a well-trained canine.  With that in mind, it was truly awesome seeing Cap make the most of his own abilities and use that star-studded shield in pretty much any situation possible.  Also because this was a decidedly less alien-esque Marvel outing where even the super-villain of the title basically possesses similar talents to that of Rogers, all of the effects had a more earthly feel to them, which also added to the realism factor.

Throw in plenty of Marvel’s infamous hero humor along with some truly tear jerking moments, and I have no qualms pronouncing this as one of Marvel’s best super stories on the big-screen yet.  One of the more humorous sequences came during a car chase scene where Nick Fury and his Siri-like ride have a give and take very reminiscent of one Michael Knight and his talking transportation named K.I.T.T.  If I had to pick anything to complain about, it would probably be the damn shaky cam technique used during the action scenes that took place over the first quarter of the film. I felt a headache coming on the size of Tony Stark’s ego, but things seemed to settle down quickly outside a few more scattered scenes during the film.  I know that style is supposed to add a sense of edginess to the shot, but it does me no good if I’m not watching the film because it’s in Spunky Destructor’s a bag of (hopefully empty) popcorn regurgitation my last meal.

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“Don’t drive angry. Don’t drive angry!”

 

The other slight nag I had about the movie was the lack of a truly enthralling score or musical theme for the patriotic Marvel man.  It’s an issue my Outlaw followers constantly hear me either harp or compliment on, and that will never change.  A great musical score does truly enhance a film from goodness to greatness. You don’t have to look further than Star Wars or Star Trek for proof of this.

Outside of those proportionately minor issues, The Winter Solider has climbed the Outlaw charts as one of my favorite standalone superhero movies in what seems like a long time; even higher than the last Andrew Garfield Amazing Spider-Man reboot if you can believe that.  This coming from a guy who loves the wall-crawler more than his biological parental units.  (Luckily, they aren’t the three readers who visit this blog.)  In summary, thanks to Evans portrayal of Rogers and Marvel’s dedication to the character, Captain America has slowly climbed towards the top of my super-powered fandom list, and I can only assume it has for many others as well.

And that is something worth saluting, no matter how old-fashioned one might be.

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5 Spurs

One Comment

  1. Kevin Cook says:

    I really need to see this movie now. It sounds awesome. But if Marvel makes a movie with just Black Widow fighting someone in a bikini I want front row seats LOL.

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