When I saw Captain America: The First Avenger, I felt like I was watching an Indiana Jones movie. I don’t mean that it’s exactly like Indiana Jones, just that the time-period, and the overall adventure nature of the film transported me back to when I was a kid watching that giant boulder chase Indy through the cave, on my friend Tyler’s big screen TV. It gave me a non-melancholy nostalgic feeling. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a completely different monster all-together. I felt more like I did when I first saw Patriot Games, or In The Line of Fire (but with about 85% more explosions).
The basic plot of the film is this, Steve Rogers is still trying to get acquainted to life in the modern world, post Battle of New York (Avengers), while still doing the occasional mission for Nick Fury and SHIELD. But he quickly becomes *painfully* aware that SHIELD has been compromised from the inside and there are very few people that can be trusted. It’s up to Cap, Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff, and Sam Wilson/FALCON(!) to save the day. However, the mysterious Winter Soldier isn’t gonna make it easy, and will force Steve to make some tough decisions.
This will be a spoiler-free review. We certainly don’t want to ruin any of this epic film for you guys. 4LN writer Bill and I both caught the film, he in regular format, and I in the 3-D IMAX (because I’m not a peasant), and below you’ll find our thoughts on different aspects of the film. Hope you enjoy!
Bill – I thought the casting and acting was really good. Personally, I felt the first Cap film was a little on the corny and lame side. This film however, is amazing. I think it’s the best superhero movie I have seen since TDKR, and that for me ( major DC Comics guy) is really saying a lot. When the Winter Solider’s identity was revealed, I looked over at my girlfriend who had NO IDEA who he was and her mind was blown. It was a pleasant surprise for anyone who isn’t a major comic book nerd.
Stephen – In addition to characters we’ve already seen (Cap, Black Widow, Nick Fury) there are some really great additions to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe this time around. The most obvious addition being the Winter Soldier. Even though Marvel has really not been secretive regarding his identity, I’ll protect it here for you guys. Suffice to say, he’s got a connection to Cap that will really hit hard.
The greatest surprise to me was Anthony Mackie as Falcon. I was not surprised that he was great, I was surprised that we got to see so much of his greatness. I assumed that he wouldn’t get very much screen time, but I was wrong. I love how they really captured the relationship between Steve and Sam. Personality-wise, Sam is who Steve would be, had he been born in this time. He’s a smart, honest, loyal soldier, just like Steve. In a way, he gives Cap some much needed hope. As just about everything else around him is shrouded in secrets and deception, Sam is a dependable and dedicated friend.
Also new to the film, is Robert Redford as SHIELD leader Alexander Pierce. He was just perfect. There are other actors of his caliber that I could imagine in that role, but none that would bring the same level of class and composure.
Chris Evans did an incredible job of capturing the “man out of time” quality of Cap. You really understand the difficulty he has coming to grips with the era he’s in being so different from the one he comes from. That’s why Falcon being a kindred-spirit is important to his character. To another extent, Black Widow is crucial because I think she reminds him of Peggy Carter a little bit. She’s a strong, no-shit-from-nobody kind of woman, just like Peggy, but she’s definitely more of a bad-ass. Scarlett Johansson really stepped up her game this time around, and she’s finally starting to lose (what I’ve always interpreted as) her discomfort in that role. She just seemed kind of awkward to me in Iron Man 2 and The Avengers, but here she really shines and proves that she is absolutely the right woman for this character.
Bill – I did not see the 3-D IMAX showing, that’s too rich for my blood. Instead I saw the regular showing and I didn’t feel like I missed anything, at all. I loved the way the movie was filmed. It flowed very naturally and it wasn’t one of those shakey messy movies. The brothers who directed this did a really good job. I will also let you know that there is a Pulp Fiction reference in the end of the film. That Easter Egg might have been one of my favorite things in the movie. Simple, but a nice little find.
Stephen – As I mentioned above, I saw the 3-D IMAX. Was it necessary? Nah. I don’t think so, but at least now I know so you don’t have to spend the extra cash (here at 4LN, we make the hard decisions so you don’t have to). However, while many of the fight scenes don’t HAVE to be seen in 3-D/IMAX (they tend to get a little blurry at times), the larger action sequences will absolutely blow you away if you choose to see the film in this format. The directors, Anthony & Joe Russo, did a great job of filming every scene exactly the way it required. They didn’t shoot the car chase scenes exactly like the fight scenes because, while they’re both action sequences, they require two different approaches to filming in order to best capture the moment. These guys are new to the action-genre, so if you notice some familiar shots, it’s probably because they took inspiration from other superhero films that were shot really well (The Dark Knight, Man of Steel, Spider-Man, etc.) I was extremely impressed with how well you could tell that they didn’t just babysit the movie and shoot a bunch of nerds-only references, they DIRECTED a very good film.
Stephen – The character of The Winter Soldier is taken from the comics, but if you’re unfamiliar with him that’s most likely because he’s fairly new. Introduced in 2005 by writer Ed Brubaker, the character is a mystery to most all security organizations and typically thought of as a myth. The direction of the film is really well-focused and when it ends (including the credits scenes you DON’T WANT TO MISS) you definitely have a good idea of where the characters will pick up in Avengers: Age of Ultron, and the inevitable third Captain America film (and maybe even some potential new film installments of the MCU, as the actor who plays Winter Soldier revealed in an interview that he signed a 9 picture deal with Marvel Studios).
The film’s pace is perfect. It’s mostly very fast, but it slows down at just the right times to sort-of drift through the curves with ease. When it’s over, you will absolutely want more. And that’s exactly what Marvel is going for.
Bill – …What Stephen Said.
Bill – Overall, I thought this was an awesome film. Save your money and don’t see it in IMAX or 3D, you wont miss out on anything, I promise. This is the best Marvel movie since Iron Man, the first one, and it makes me super excited for the next phase of Marvel movies that will be heading our way. Plus, the Doctor Strange reference sold me on this movie.
Stephen – It’s too early to tell where this will fall in my fav-list of the MCU films, but right now I’m gonna say it at least ties IM1 for the absolute best. There were moments that shocked me, moments that had me laughing, and moments where I just sat in awe of what I was seeing. The scope of this flick is so big at times, that you will have a hard time soaking it all in. This seems to be a growing trend for Marvel. Their films continue to get bigger and bigger, without losing the sincerity and heart.
Make sure you stay til the very end. And I do mean the VERY end. Sit through ALL the credits, because there are 2 scenes (1 mid-credits and 1 post-credits) that you’ll miss if you leave early. Come back next week for a SPOILER article where I’ll fill you in on the Easter-eggs and references that you may not have known much about (this is mostly for the people who are going to text me while they’re still sitting in the theater trying to figure out “Who was that?” or “What did they mean when they said that?”)
Now, go see Captain America: The Winter Soldier! It’s your duty!