I went to see a movie today. Now I’m going to review it. Because that’s what we do here from time to time. And I’m great at it. Here goes: I saw Captain America: The Winter Soldier and I liked it. More on that later. For anyone who just came out of a coma, perhaps after being frozen underwater since WWII after crash-landing a supervillain’s gigantic tesseract-powered airplane to save the world, I’ll lay some background on you. I like most of the Marvel movies, particularly those in the Avengers family of flicks (unrelated and deservedly forgotten Hulk films not included).
My top three picks of the group are, in order: Iron Man, Captain America: The First Avenger, and The Avengers (it comes in third because Thor bores me and Hawkeye/Jeremy Renner sucks. Disagree? Well you’re dumb. Moving on). The point is, I’ve been looking forward to the next Captain America since, well, the first one. I was never a comic book reader growing up, so I had no real attachment to the character coming into the films. But I liked what I saw and enjoyed the further developments the thawed out super-soldier underwent in The Avengers. Even knowing the mysterious Winter Soldier’s identity before going into the theater (don’t worry, I won’t spoil IT’S BUCKY BARNES, YOU FUCKING MORON! HOW COULD YOU POSSIBLY STILL NOT KNOW THAT THE WINTER GODDAMN SOLDIER IS SERGEANT JAMES “BUCKY” BUCHANAN BARNES PLAYED BY SEBASTIAN STAN? any of the major plot points for you), I had high hopes for entertainment.
And I was quite happy with what I saw. To be fair, I had hoped to be blown away, but I can certainly live with being merely extremely pleased and entertained. To really get into the nitty-gritty of what I liked, and the few things I disliked, about this film, it really needs to be broken down into the two almost-separate, simultaneous movies that make up this one. One is an interesting, though mostly predictable, story of an unimaginably dangerous enemy within and the other is an extended trailer for the next Captain America film.
The former of those two plotlines is a seemingly standard spy/government run amuck yarn. Who’s really on which side? Who’s pulling the strings? What are the real motives? Who’s dead and who’s not really dead maybe? Who killed them? Or thought they killed them? Is Cobie Smulders really as attractive as people seem to think? (No). Does Robert Redford need an office that big? What congressional subcommittee approved that boondoggle? Etc. Those factors alone add up to nothing special, but with Captain America in the mix it makes it another story. We’re used to seeing superheroes fight other super-beings, or space aliens, or Mickey Rourke with weird lighting whip arms.
The real meaty twist wasn’t one of the ones in the plot, it was the presence of a guy like Steve Rogers, a man whose personality revolves around beating the shit out of bad guys with a shield because it’s the right thing to do, in the plot itself. It lets the typical Captain America themes of “simple man of morals in a complicated world” and “fish out of water who also kicks ass” play out in new ways, even though Rogers is a changed man from his days fighting in the great Dubbya-Dubbya-Deuce. Which is good, because all the actual plot twists were all super predictable. Not a surprise in the shuffle, I’m sorry to say. Well, one was a little unexpected, but not like “Holy shit!” More “Huh, interesting.” The fact that I still found it fun to watch gives credit to the heart of the story and the strength of the characters.
The other film-within-the-film, which is tenuously yet believably connected to the first, is what gives the film real promise. And I really do mean promise, as in it the promise of the next Captain America film being truly awesome. It’s also the most disappointing part of the film, because they are obviously saving the real meat of the Winter Soldier storyline for said next film (currently set to hit theaters May 2016). This film just teases at it, weaving it through the main plot like a thick thread with a frayed end. The whole things is an obvious set up, but it’s still entertainingly done. Like any good trailer, it makes you want to see the film it’s advertising. Just a pain in the ass that it’ll be two more years.
Overall, good stuff. I liked it, I’d see it again, and I look forward to what comes next. Especially since the resolution of the main plot throws a big “Now what?” into a major element of the Avengers films. Also looking forward to Guardians of the Galaxy. How awesome does that look? That Chris Pratt, what a card. Captain America: The Winter Soldier has its flaws, and it certainly won’t blow your mind in any way (unless you’re one of the last three idiots in the world who doesn’t know that THE WINTER SOLDIER IS BUCKY FLIPPITY-DOO-DAH-FUCKING BARNES), but it’s a really good movie. Action, intrigue, fun, and at least two other things worth watching.
Points out of whatever:
- Main Plot: +5
- The Winter Soldier: is Bucky Barnes.
- Chris Evans: +4
- Anthony Mackie: Should be in more stuff.
- Redford and Jackson: +5
- Scarlett Johannson: Yes please.
- That one twist that actually surprised me: +3
- Danny Pudi cameo: Cool cool cool.
- Captain America will return in… : Captain America: The Even More Wintrier Soldier
Final Score: 17, whatever that means.