Captain America: The Winter Soldier

The posters for this film have been ace.

The posters for this film have been ace.

Captain America (2011) is one of my favourite of the Marvel films so far. As such I was pretty keen to check out Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), although there was a nagging doubt that I could not quite shake – how would the film hold up without the period setting of the first film?

cap GSPAfter seeing Marvel’s latest effort, I think it was a fair concern to have. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is by no means a bad film (it is very, very rare that Marvel put their stamp on one of those), but it is also rather standard, never reaching the heights of the best films from the comic book behemoth. Much of that is due to the shift in time frame for Cap which was a necessity in order for him to be part of The Avengers (2012). The character of Captain America is a bit of an absurd one in reality. But his over the top, arch-patriotism works best when situated, like the first film, somewhere like Germany in World War II. In 2014 America, a place where the mainstream political and military mindset has been battered in the opinion of the public by Iraq, Afghanistan, the NSA and so on, Cap is more likely to be a little on the nose. It is a credit to the filmmakers that they are willing to explore this uneasy state of affairs and the uneasy place that this character has in it, but even so, there is no doubting that the major thing that the first film had going for it is gone. The early attempts to transfer the military stylings and focus of the first film into this one does not really work at all and contributes to what is a spluttering first half hour.

cap bucky

Of course simply to say that it is impossible for a present day set Captain America film to be fantastic is silly. With the right story and action beats and there is no doubting the character could helm a cracking film, especially given Chris Evans feels so spot on in the role. But the major issue with this film is that whilst there are some great aspects to it, including some of the action beats, the overarching plot is initially oblique and then to be honest really weak and lacking in the narrative richness required. There was always going to be some need to attempt to connect the plot of the film to that of the first film, and it does not work. I am aware that the story is based on a really highly regarded comic book arc, but I can only assume that does a much better job of telling the story than this film does. It is such a shame that the main story does not stick, because Robert Redford is very good as it is and if the story was a little stronger, his character could have been a really impactful one. The film is also not really about The Winter Solider that much at all. If you are going to build the marketing and even naming of a film around a character, don’t just make him a henchman for a vast majority of the film. The last 20 minutes or so does manage to get the viewer excited for what could perhaps come in the future between the two characters. But you are left with the distinct sense that the potential of the character was neglected in this flick a little to set things up for future entries.

cap cap widowOne thing that this film does better then perhaps any other Marvel flick is that it gives the minor goodies a chance to shine. The increased screen time for Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow is perhaps the best thing about the entire film. I know that Marvel has an ever expanding slate of both rumoured and confirmed phase 3 films, but they should seriously pull the trigger on a standalone Johansson Widow film. The character has so much great back-story, both from the comics and hinted at this film that could be mined for a really effective origin style story. Basing it around some of the current comics that Nathan Edmondson is writing for the character would be a real winner in my view. And having the character attempting to atone for her chequered KGB past could also make a very different kind of Marvel film. The other main highlight in the supporting cast is Anthony Mackie’s Falcon, a character that initially grates but by the third act is one of the best things about it. Again, the filmmakers actually give the character some great moments out of the shadow of Cap which is something the Marvel films have not always managed to do very well. For me though, Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury continues to be a total bore whilst the much more interesting S.H.I.E.L.D operative Maria Hill played by Cobie Smulders unfortunately does not feature nearly enough.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is certainly a really solid, enjoyable big budget blockbuster that will be better than 80% of films in that category this year. For me personally, despite my enjoyment, it is a slight disappointment. But that is more a credit to how much Marvel have been killing it of late, rather than any real slight against the film itself.

Verdict: Stubby of Reschs

Related articles for you to check out: 2014 Preview: Top Ten Anticipated Films and Captain America: The Winter Solider posters

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20 responses

  1. Nice review mate. I thought it was pretty decent but I did miss the period setting a little of the first film. Having said that, I thought the Winter Soldier was a great villain, which is something the Marvel films sometimes lacks.

    1. Yeah agree that the Marvel films occasionally lack a strong villain. I liked the Winter Soldier. Just wish there was more of him I guess. Thanks for commenting mate.

  2. Great review Tim! I certainly missed the 40s period setting of The First Avenger but I have to say that this was a thrilling watch and the Winter Soldier was just hardcore and I had a lot of fun with this one!

    1. Yeah it definitely was a thrilling watch and there were some great action sequences. Think my review focused a little on the negatives, but still got a lot out of this one.

      1. It was objective and well presented! You highlighted both ends, which is awesome!

  3. I haven’t read any of these yet as I am going to see this on Saturday… I’ll come back though!

      1. I SURE DID!!! Loved it!!

  4. Great review. I loved the film and thought the new thriller aspect of the film took Marvel into a new Genre even if in a relatively small way. Very much looking forward to the next one 😀

    1. Yeah for sure. Definitely liked the subtle shift in genre that they made. Marvel do a great job of making all of these films pretty original when they could easily just phone it in and still make hundreds of millions of bucks.

      1. Yeah I think the best aspect of the shared marvel universe is that each film is connected but have their own unique style 😀

  5. Im glad someone else doesn’t think this is the greatest thing ever. I was pretty drunk when I saw it so I don’t trust my own opinion!

    1. I only ever trust opinions from people who are pretty drunk. Hell it’s Friday night and I’m pretty drunk right now.

  6. Great review. I think we pretty much agree but I liked it a bit more. I really missed the period aspect of the first and yeah, the Winter Soldier was underwhelming and Fury is still so boring, but the action is soooo good!

    1. Yeah right on Fernando. Action sequences were great. I liked the Winter Soldier. Just wanted a whole lot more of him.

      1. Yeah. He was in the movie for very little considering it’s named after him! Haha

  7. Victor De Leon | Reply

    Nice review, man! Really looking forward to this one. Thanks to your review, I will know what to expect going in, more or less. Thanks!

    1. Cheers Vic. You manage to catch this one yet?

      1. Victor De Leon

        Hopefully this upcoming weekend. I’m a bit behind.

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