Captain America: The Winter Soldier Movie Review

Genre – Action, Comic Book, Superhero

Director – The Russo Brothers (You, Me and Dupree, Captain America 3)

Cast – Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, Sebastian Stan, Emily VanCamp, Robert Redford

Alluring element – Captain America kicking asses, taking names, and then kicking those asses, too

Scorecard:
Plot – 8
Acting – 9
Representation of genre/Identity – 9
Cinematography – 9
Effects/Environment – 10
Captivity – 8
Logical consistency – 7
Originality/Creativity – 9
Soundtrack/Ambiance – 8
Overall awesomeness – 9
 

“I can do everything he does… only slower” – how we feel about big shot blog sites who get their movie reviews in a week early because of special privileges

Oh Captain, my Captain! Chris Evans returns as Steve Rogers in his first solo film since Captain America: The First Avenger in 2011. He is not alone, though, as S.H.IE.L.D. director Nick Fury and mistress of espionage, Black Widow, join him in his mission to take down the Winter Soldier. There is a lot of back-story in this movie found in the comic books (Captain America: Winter Soldier review coming soon), and some of them might be considered light spoilers for casual fans of Captain America’s character, but fans who don’t know might be a little confused without those spoilers. It is never actually mentioned that Natasha Romanoff (check out our article on her here) is the Black Widow, and there are a lot of other details that sort of don’t really make sense unless you’ve seen The First AvengerAvengers or read the associate comic books. While some might consider it poor story-telling, I look at it as not getting rewarded for doing your homework. Now that Marvel has hooked in the masses, it seems to be setting a new precedent by making viewers delve deeper to understand the whole story.

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From the get-go, we can see that this is not your father’s Captain America. The naive young man who stood for truth, justice and the American way has opened his eyes to how the world really works. He still holds a moral standard that makes his colleagues roll their eyes, but is definitely going to throw down in the line of duty. In the strictest sense of it, he is no longer a champion of the American government, but the spirit of America. I feel like a good majority of Avengers showed Rogers being poked fun at for not knowing the various pop culture and historical references and making fun of his theological ideals and sense of and morality. Thankfully, this has been laid to rest and Cap now has a little notepad in which he lists all the things he has to catch up on, most recently added being Marvin Gaye’s soundtrack to TroublemanNote: this list is actually different, depending on the country you see the film in. It’s a quick way to see how the character has grown, and to avoid beating a dead horse.

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What really piqued my interest was Captain America’s level of brutality. Sure, he killed a bunch of Nazis in WWII, but that was war. I expected Captain America to have the same sort of moral compass as a Spider-Man or a Batman, where every life is sacred and not even the most vile are to die. That theory’s thrown out the window here as Cap stabs, smashes and explodes his way to put the bad guys down – most notably in the first ten minutes of espionage-filled action. Have we just evolved our super-hero standards to fit the modern day, or is this a darker, jaded Captain America that we’re seeing here?

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While The First Avenger let people believe in the symbol, The Winter Soldier had more of an origin story identity than the actual origin story did. We get to see Steve Rogers become a super-soldier, take down Red Skull and find the courage to defeat an army – but Winter Soldier really embodies the hero that we associate the character Captain America as. A lot of it has to do with the acting; Chris Evans plays the perfect Captain America. Even with an all-star cast at his side, there was never a moment that it didn’t feel like it was his story. The “supporting cast” absolutely makes the movie. I haven’t seen Samuel L. Jackson this bad-ass since he was chopping off heads with a purple lightsaber. I mean, he’s no David Hasselhoff, thank God, but he’s as Nick Fury as you’re ever going to get; he’s the leading agent of a super-spy program for a reason, and Sam Jackson played it to a T. Note: Sadly, there are no exclamations of “Mother-f***er” in this film. Meanwhile, the talented ScarJo plays Black Widow extremely well. She’s sexy without being objectified – a role model for women and a poster model for men, truly the best of both worlds. However, it’s Anthony Mackie’s portrayal of Sam Wilson AKA Falcon that really stole the show. From Mackie’s acting to the way the his costume was designed, Falcon was bad-ass – and from the looks of it, this won’t be the only movie he will be in.

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What makes Winter Soldier so great is it’s reflection of current society. Much the way The Dark Knight showed us our fear of terrorism and the symbol of how that is dealt with, Captain America: The Winter Soldier showed us our addiction to using government enforcement. Ah, the plot thickens. Everything is not what it seems though, as the whole shebang has been a conspiracy, an infection that has swept the whole system. Iconic movies like V for Vendetta have portrayed similar messages, but not quite as plainly as Winter Soldier showed it, and especially not as relate-able as to U.S. drone strikes taking down its own citizens. Surprisingly to some, this isn’t the first time Steve Rogers has taken on the entire U.S. government in the name of its people, so who is really the enemy here? I’ve seen the movie and I still don’t know; these are the questions that keep a good movie in the minds of its viewers.

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So, we’ve spent a lot of time talking about Captain America, but what about the Winter Soldier? He is in half the title, after all. When the book that the film is based off of (review of that coming soon as well) was released almost a decade ago, the big reveal was that Bucky Barnes – friend and partner of Steve Rogers before his heroic and untimely death in The First Avenger – was actually the Winter Soldier, and it floored readers. Thanks to IMDb and the rest of the internet, we all knew this coming in. The reveal wasn’t quite as built-up as I would have liked, and I feel the whole portrayal of Bucky was really rushed; there was maybe 15-20 minutes devoted to him – and that is a shame because the Winter Soldier (both before and after the events of the movie) is one of the most ruthless killers in the Marvel universe. We do get some superb action sequences with Bucky and Captain America, each blow giving off waves of power, reminiscent of an epic anime fight. While on-screen, they do the Winter Soldier justice – but in the same way that Bucky was a pawn for the Russians, he is also just a pawn for the deeper storyline of the movie.

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Captain America: The Winter Soldier also did not shy away from fanboy moments. The Amazing Stan Lee made his usual cameo (honestly one of his funniest), but it was another guest star that made us gush aloud in the theater. I won’t spoil it, but the Russo Brothers, who direct the movie, also are executive producers for a television show we can’t seem to get enough of – we’ll let you guess. We also get a taste of other not so super villains too, with Baltroc and Crossbones getting some screen time (they’re not in their traditional costumes, so see if you can find them). The use of the vibranium shield was spot on and a clear ode to the books; every fight sequence begins or ends with Rogers bouncing this thing off walls, even at one point destroying a S.H.I.E.L.D. fighter plane with it. Captain America was also a monster in combat. Exponentially quicker and stronger than his opponents, he put the hurt on a lot of people in spectacular fashion. Every punch, grapple and shield bash looked just as one from a super-soldier should.

To bastardize a line from The Dark KnightCaptain America: The Winter Soldier is the movie that we deserve, and the one we need. In a time where we are getting dangerously close to superhero super-saturation, it’s great to see a comic book film that favors character development over plot development. There are, of course, the explosions, fight scenes and witty one-liners that set a high standard at Marvel Studios, but what really makes Captain America: The Winter Soldier worth your money is the front-row seat to watching one of the finest characters in comic books saving the world from itself. Although the actual Winter Soldier (or Agent 13, for that matter) wasn’t in it for very long, The Winter Soldier drove home it’s sociopolitical points while still looking like one of the best comic book movies to come out.

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Other Stuff:

Easter Eggs!

An explanation of the post-credit scene.

Review of Captain America (vol 5): Winter Soldier graphic novel

All media credited to Marvel Studios

We Can Do It! Black Widow

“We Can Do It!: Women in Comics, Television and Beyond” is Hush Comics’ answer to what women in comics mean to the world and to us  Visit our page every Monday to learn about a new super lady!

*Note: Yes this article is late.  Yay for jet lag from ECCC and hey, I thought it would be cool to publish when Winter Soldier actually came out.  Oopsies.  

Who:

Natasha Romanoff AKA Black Widow

Nicknames/Aliases:

Black Widow, Natalia Romanova (ok that’s her given name for you aficionados), Czarina

Skills:

Advanced combat skills and training, acrobat, ballerina, slowed aging due to Soviet experimentation, and a great knowledge of how to use a gun.

Origin Story:

Like most Marvel heroes, Black Widow has been retconned.  Either way, her history is way sketchy.  I guess that is what happens when a girl is trained by Russia to be a spy and is genetically mutated.  Yup, so that is basically her history.  Her real name can either be Natasha Romanoff or Natalia Romanova.  This just adds to her mystery.  She was trained by Ivan Petrovich, and in her retcon, by the KGB.  She has been experimented on to make her age slower and make her more agile.  She has also had her memory altered so she doesn’t remember significant chunks of her life and is given the memory of being an esteemed ballerina.  Originally, Natasha was sent to kill Iron Man.  She wore an evening gown with a sweet cat-eye mask with a veil over her face.  She was also raven haired before she had her fiery red mane.  She met Hawkeye and convinced him to help her.  After a failed mission, she was kidnapped by the KGB and brainwashed to kill the Avengers, of which Hawkeye was a member.  Because she had fallen in love with him, she eventually found the light side and became good ole American.  She also became the 16th Avenger.  She has found herself in a romantic relationship with many Marvel characters, mainly being the main squeeze of Matt Murdock aka Daredevil, but she also has been with Iron Man, Captain America, and Bucky Barnes.  In her current issues, she is an independent spy who sometimes takes jobs with Nick Fury’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  Notably, Black Widow saved Wolverine from the HYDRA and was a leader of The Champions which included Hercules and Ghost Rider.  She led them to battle with many baddies including The Stranger and The Crimson Dynamo.  Yeah, she pretty much has done everything.

Why is she important?:

Let me count the ways as to why Natasha Romanoff is important.  Ok, first, she currently is the female face of The Avengers.  I mean she is carrying the entire female population in all the current movies.  That’s a lot to handle.  And all this is just my opinion of course, but I really think she is the inspiration for two of my other favorite women: La Femme Nikita and Echo from Dollhouse.  As far as La Femme Nikita goes, she was also a Russian spy who was used as a tool for the government.  And Echo?  Well, Natasha was also brainwashed and supplied with false memories.  She was made to be super strong and acrobatic.  So were the Dolls.  Pretty cool, I think.  Not only that, but Natasha has kinda saved a lot of our favorite superheroes.  Like, their lives.  Oh, and she’s smart, witty and can kick a lot of ass.  I’d say she is really important not only for the Marvel Universe, but to women ad little girls who go to the movies and read comics.  Thank you, Miss Romanoff.

What she means to me:

Honestly, before The Avengers came out, I had limited knowledge of who Black Widow was.  But considering my celebrity doppelgänger, Scarlett Johansson, played her, I needed to find out as much as I could.   As a little girl, I used to play spy.  Didn’t every little girl?  Ok maybe about half of us.  Anyway, Black Widow is the woman I think of when I wish I had a different life, except in my head, it is a more glamourous world without all that experimentation.   Now that I know tons more about her, I think every girl should idolize her.  She is a woman who has been through hell and back, is smart as a whip and can kick some serious ass.  Yup, pretty much one tough as nails chick.  And that’s why I love her.

photos belong to Marvel

 

written by Adrian Puryear