Captain America: Winter Soldier

Published: Apr 18, 2014 23:53pm EDT
By shaunmerritt, Entertainment/Sports Writer for Konsume Entertainment

Please Note: This article was updated Apr 19, 2014 @ 10:24pm EDT

 

Captain America: The Winter Solider is the last of the main “Phase 2” films that Marvel will release before Avengers: Age of Ultron, the sequel to the first Avengers film, is slated to be released in 2015. Even though it has a lot of action with a realistic story, the movie throws too many plots points at you that never get resolved.

Along with Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World, the film never addresses the absence of the other Avengers. Normally this is not an issue in a standalone film, but the mere fact that the film kept making constant mentions to Iron Man alone kept making me wonder if Tony Stark was going to show up. I stop counting the times “Stark” was mentioned in the film about a third of the way through it. Even the inclusion Black Widow as a main character made me confused. Where is Hawkeye? There is no reason given why he is absent when he should play a role, albeit a minor one, in the overall story of the film. I mean Fury is attacked, S.H.I.E.L.D. is compromised, and one it’s top agents is nowhere to be found? There is even a moment when Captain America and Black Widow need to open some heavily encrypted files and rather than contacting Start, who is an electronic genius, they go to the local Apple store. It just doesn’t make any sense. I am sure this will, or at least I hope it will be addressed in Avengers: Age of Ultron, but I highly doubt it will.

But this is not the biggest issue of the movie for me. While the film is full of excellent action scenes and introduces many new and intriguing characters, the main antagonist, or at least what the title of the movie suggests is the main antagonist, barely plays a key role on the film. By the time we learn the true identity of the “Winter Solider” and his past, the final act is already set in motion. He serves as nothing more than a plot device for a possible third Captain America film and really should have played a much bigger role in the film. You could honestly replace the character with any generic bad guy and it would have had no impact on the film. I was really curious as to whom this character was and what he was about and they just don’t give him enough screen time. When he and Captain America have their final face off, the drama is just there. Considering the history the Winter Solider has with Captain America, in both film and comic, it was a shame to see such a character get wasted like that.

My biggest annoyance with the film is with Black Widow. I have never seen a character get so much screen time with so little back story. She was once a Russian spy who has done some very bad things, at least this is what we been told and it’s the same song and dance in this film. Many mentions are made to her questionable past and not one single revelation is made as to what those things were. For two films now we have seen her grow worrisome about the “red” in her history but we are left to just believe it’s bad. If there is a MacGuffin in this film, it’s that.

Moving to the positive side of the film, if there is one part of this movie that really stands out, it’s the action and storytelling. We see S.H.I.E.L.D. in a mad panic trying to stay ahead of the curve against the dangers that have now become apparent. While Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World touched on the events in Marvel's The Avengers in their own “unique” ways, Captain America: The Winter Solider actually does a better job at staying within the story arc and expanding on it. However, it tends to play into the hands of those “in the know,” and those who are not familiar with the source material may be slightly confused. None the less, this film dives deep into character histories, the emotions of how what they do affects them, and how certain relationships are built. I can honestly say that this movie had more character development than almost all the previous Marvel movies combined, outside of first Iron Man movie. What amazed me was how well it worked within the overall plot. At no time did it drag down the timing and seemed out of place.

I was also surprised at the amount of action in this film. While I know it seems odd to say it, but I was taken aback by seeing so many people get shot, stabbed, and even killed. This is not a watered down comic book movie at all. The biggest, and more welcome part of the action, is Captain America’s shield. Holy crap does this thing do some damage in this film. What was once a prop takes center stage as Captain America just lays down the law with this thing putting in on par with Iron Man’s suit as the coolest weapon in the series.

What was also refreshingly welcome was seeing the good guys get their collective asses handed to them. Every man character bleeds at some point in this film. It really brought the entire film down to a real level and that really nailed it for me as liking this film despite all its short comings. We know that main characters are going to live no matter what and that drama built around them getting hurt is nothing more than plot dressing, but there a few moment when Black Widow and Captain America himself gets hurt badly and you really are taken back by it. It’s hard to describe just how different it is in comparison to other films, but given the context of the scenes, it adds heavily to the drama and helps build the tension without taking you for being an idiot.  

Finally, I have to give major props to one major part of this film… Chris Evans. I will admit that I did not like the first Captain America film, mostly because Evans was just not convincing enough to me. He didn’t stand toe to toe with the rest of the other actors in the Avengers film and it was really hard to buy him as the group’s leader. In this film, you really see who the character is what he is capable of. While I think the other films tried to have him play Captain America too much, this one has him play it from the role of Steve Rogers. I know that is sounds like semantics, but it obvious how the film makers wanted to show the character as one entire package. Evans gets to show his range a little, and while he is not going to win any Oscars anytime soon, he added a few layers to Captain American that was missing and I honestly hope that they make a couple more sequels.

In the end, despite all of my gripes, this is easily the best Phase 2 Marvel film. As a precursor to the next Avengers film and possible Captain America sequels, it does its job well and leaves you wanting more. It fast passed and at over two hours, doesn’t feel long at all. While the film leaves you with more questions than answers, the action more than makes up for it. Be mindful to watch out for the references to other Marvel characters, lines from famous films (there is even a Pulp Fiction one), and stay for one appetizing post credit scene. Solid action and great character development, with numerous plot holes and ping pong story telling keeps the movie from being one of Marvel’s best, but easily a must see. 


 

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shaunmerritt
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