With Andy in The Big Apple, I’ll be taking a solo look at Marvel’s latest offering, Captain America: The Winter Soldier (PG-13).
After an attempt on Nick Fury’s (Samuel L. Jackson) life, a series of events unravel that involve a massive conspiracy within the espionage and law-enforcement organization known as SHIELD. Needless to say it’s up to Captain America (Chris Evans) and friends (Scarlett Johansson and Anthony Mackie) to save the day. Robert Redford and Sebastian Stan costar in the film. Anthony and Joe Russo (TV’s Community) share directing duties.
For the first hour or so, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the best movie from Marvel Studios (and yes, I’m including the Avengers in that). The narrative that harkens back to the conspiracy thrillers from the 1970s coupled with some great opening action sequences gets the ball rolling for what appears to be a game-changer type of film in the Marvel canon. Adding in the great characterization of Steve Rogers trying to adapt to the modern world and one actually has a Marvel super-hero film that feels grounded and interesting. Regrettably, the film’s momentum is stunted in the second half of the film as it’s unable to escape the Marvel blueprint for underwhelming yet over-the-top climaxes.
One of the biggest issues I have with the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is that the films don’t seem relevant. Say what you want about the Christopher Nolan driven films from their competition but those movies — aesthetically and narratively — feel like they exist in a more grounded (albeit hyper) reality.
That just has not been the case with any of the MCU films to this point. I give the Russo brothers a lot of credit for at least trying to produce a film that feels like it exists (or might exist) in our world. Contemporary issues such as government surveillance, privacy, preemptive warfare and terrorism are all explored in The Winter Soldier. And those modern issues juxtaposed with the idealism of Captain America makes for some intriguing inherent drama.