Saturday, April 5, 2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier [Movie Review]

Ah, yet another Marvel universe movie. I love these - it's a guilty pleasure. But they make such a fun universe... and I say this as a person who does not read American comics. It's the one nerdy thing I really don't do. I've tried.

That is perfection. Corvette C7 and Scarlet Johanssen.
They must be judging me and my lack of nerd cred.

So that is something to keep in mind while I'm reviewing the newest Captain America film. I've never read any of these comics. None.

However I still really enjoy the Marvel movies. I've seen almost all of them... I've never seen The Hulk. But I think I've seen the rest of them, and own most of them on Blu-ray. 

4 of 5 stars
Dude! How are you making that knife float!? Freaky!
I might be over rating the movie... and I'll let you in on a secret. No, not really... the truth is I went to the theater feeling fine, but almost immediately after I bought my ticket I felt the first pangs of a phenomenal headache. It got worst with time... the vestiges are still pounding through my skull as I type this. However even with a resounding pain in my brain, I still enjoyed the film.  It was better than the first by quite a bit.

The story is more robust. And since I've never read the comics... it surprised me! It actually did some really cool plot twists and turns that I was not fully expecting. It used the first film as a platform, it used Avengers as a platform, and it jumped from the stage at Kiyomizu-dera quite successfully. It landed shield first and took any impact with only a few cliche stumbles. 

I was not overly impressed with the first Captain America film. It was probably the least of the Marvel movies I've seen... (again, I've not seen the Hulk). Winter Soldier was pretty good.
B.A.M.F. by any other name is still Samuel L. Jackson.

Time for some plot. This occurs after Avengers, after Iron Man 3, and after Thor the Dark World. In general it seems that Marvel movies fall after the one that came right before... it makes sense.

I want that backpack. I don't care about the danger.
So Shield exists, and Captain America, Steve Rogers (played by Chris Evans), works for them, directly under Nick Fury it seems. Black Widow, Natasha (played by Scarlet Johansson), also works directly for Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). A boat has been hijacked by French ex-military forces (I think... again, I was suffering from a headache). On board are several Shield personnel. So, Nick Fury dispatches a strike team lead by Captain America to take out the pirates and rescue the Shield agents. Natasha has a separate mission - recover data for Shield.

Upon returning to the Shield Triskelion, Capt. America is upset that he did not know about Natasha's mission. [Last time I heard the word Triskelion I was watching Star Trek TOS.] So Nick Fury decides to show him what it is all about - the absolute protection of the world from terrorists, and other dark forces. To that end they are building three massive hover-carriers using Stark industries technology.

So... that's all you get. That's pretty much just a taste of the movie. That might be the first 15min, tops.


Good points:
- Solid action. Sometimes a touch blurry, but that's how modern movies go.
- Solid story. It's good - it's cliche, but good. Well told. And that is what is really important, since if you subscribe the idea that every story has been told before, then the only thing new is the way you tell it... well then this works very well. 
- Good character interaction. You really get a strong feel for the different characters. They actually do a good job showing how different their reactions and responses to situations are. I liked it.
- Good humor. All marvel movies have a low level of humor... this maintains that. Might up it a touch, maybe not. I don't have a solid metric on that.

Capt's new duds.
Now that is not to say that there are not some problems. There are. Ok, not all of these are problems... some are just well tread tropes.

Clark Kenting. Also: Make-out Fake-out.
- At one point a scanner is used to identify which keys on a lock were pressed to open a door. Somehow the scanner knew which order the keys were pressed. And oddly... I cannot find a trope for this. That's irritating.
- Remember that French ex-Military guy i walking about. He's actually supposed to be Algerian. Unfortunately the accent is very obviously Quebecois (or so I'm told - it just sounded French to me). Misplaced Accent.
- Clark Kenting. See image.
- Make-out Fake-out. Also see image.
This should be a new 'I see what you did there' meme.
- The really bad move was a terrible Retcon in the middle of the movie. I'm not going to spoil it for you, but it really threw me. It made no sense in the frame of the Marvel universe, it didn't even really work in the film. It had a plot point, but one that was not especially necessary. It was just not needed... and kinda bad.

But honestly. There was preview before the movie for another Scarlet Johansson film... The name of the film is Lucy and it is based off of one the stupidest and most persistent urban myths out there. The myth is the idea that people only use 10% of their brain. This is utterly stupid and completely ridiculous. The movie might be good... but I can never watch it because of this imbecilic urban myth. During normal daily activity - just interacting with your environment - you use between 35% and 45% of your brain at once. I mean you can read some neuroscience journal articles to see this idiotic urban myth destroyed... or just watch an episode of Mythbusters from 2010 called Tablecloth Chaos. Even at rest you are using about 15%... when active this goes upwards of 35%. Neurologist John Henley says that  "Evidence would show over a day you use 100 percent of the brain." (source: Scientific American). Just stop perpetuating this idiotic myth...

Ok. I've gone off on a tangent... I'll stop.

Here's my final advice. If you have enjoyed the Marvel Universe movies, this is one that is certainly worth watching. If you like action films, the same. It's worth matinee money... and from me that's good praise since I rarely rarely ever see movies after the matinee time slots.

It's a good continuation of the Marvel Universe.

Best poster for the movie...

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