Superhero films have been pretty poor lately.
For the past couple of years it’s been slim pickings in terms of good ones, with 2013 efforts like Man of Steel and Thor: Dark World failing to gain my approval due to weak plots and a running time mostly devoted to monotonous fight scenes.
Another long-term issue Superhero films have is that while the origin stories are usually sure-fire hits, the followups can leave a lot to be desired.
Undeterred though, I went along to see Captain America: The Winter Soldier the other day.
I really hoped it would be good…
Captain America: The Winter Soldier Review – What’s It About?
To go into too much detail would spoil things, since unexpected events kick off fairly early on.
A non-spoiler version would be that Captain America struggles to embrace his role in the modern world and battles a new threat from old history: the Soviet agent known as the Winter Soldier.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier Review – Who’s In It?
That guy who looks a lot like the Human Torch, Chris Evans, is back in the title role and is joined by – among others – Samuel L Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, an incredibly old-looking Robert Redford, Jim Robinson off Neighbours, Abed off Community and everyone’s favourite liar, Emily Thorne (van Camp) from Revenge.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier Review – How Highly Is It Rated?
With a 93% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, 8.5 on imdb from around 9,000 votes and plenty of four-to-five star reviews in the press, this is one Superhero movie that appears to have delivered in the eyes of the critics.
The worst review I’ve seen is a 3-star one from the Guardian.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier Review – My Thoughts
Despite being jaded to the genre’s output lately, I have to say I enjoyed The Winter Soldier a lot.
Sure, it had the same problem to a certain extent as some of the poorer Marvel efforts – i.e. the last section was a large display of CGI destruction – but even that was done in a way that actually moved the plot on.
The biggest praise I could give it is that it had actually has a story to it where things developed that will ultimately affect the future of the Marvel Universe, both on TV and in the movies.
What are those developments? Well that would spoil the film for you, so I won’t touch upon them.
But if I was a viewer of Agents of SHIELD (and I’m not at the moment, though I’m sure I’ll go back to it at some point), I’d be interested to see where they go.
In terms of the plot, if I had one criticism though it’s that the whole thing hinges upon a bad guy telling Captain American and Black Widow the truth of their plans. If he’d kept his mouth shut, everything would have worked out for them.
I think beyond that what appeals to me about the Captain America franchise – in spite of him being a technically dull Superhero – is that it seems more grounded in reality.
With a plot about espionage, betrayal and conspiracy, I find that much easier to get into than the Thor films, which come across as dreary cod-Shakespearian twaddle masked by CGI and extravagant alien costumes.
Captain America is just more interesting for me.
And it’s probably easier to write an engaging plot for as well.
Acting & Characterisation
While the Captain himself is a little bit colourless as a leading character, Chris Evans does a decent job.
It’s the characters around him though – and the actors as well I suppose – who drive things forward a bit and although I doubt she’d work as well as the star of her own movie, Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow was a sensible choice to pair up with the Cap. It was also cool seeing Falcon make an appearance.
Robert Redford looked oooooold though, and was dressed and styled like a murderer from an early season of Columbo.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier Review – Final Thoughts
I feel like I’m slightly hamstrung by my inability to discuss the plot much, but like I say, a lot happens, and it would ruin it to give away some of the exciting twists and turns along the way.
But in the absence of that, take this message away…
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is – by the standards of Marvel films lately – a very good movie.
Definitely one to see.