Tuesday, April 15, 2014

"Captain America: The Winter Soldier" review

Perhaps the most mature and intelligent addition to the Avengers franchise.

Captain America geared up in a new suit
We have seen the man in the armored suit, we have seen the thunder god with his earth-shattering hammer, but with more than 2 chances in their respective sequels neither has been able to venture beyond the guy who just kicks ass. Marvel’s cinematic universe expands with Captain America: The Winter Soldier but it also diverges into new and refreshing territory. The latest installment has a great deal to boast and distinguish from the typical movies that Marvel’s line up has brought.   

Following the events of The First Avenger and The Avengers, the film continues to focus on Steve Rogers as he adjusts to modern day life. Although Captain America believes that he is the only person who has outlived his time, the dark plot slowly uncovers hidden fragments from his past that have lingered on to the present. With this continued secrecy, the atmosphere of the film is set. The audience, much like the titular Cap, is mostly unaware of the grand scheme which solidifies the suspense of the present movie and extends the mystery to upcoming films.

As Rogers lives his low-profile life in Washington DC, he meets a former soldier, Sam Wilson (Falcon), during a run out in the park. Even with a few friends and a job, Captain America reminisces his past glory days with a visit to the museum. His hidden isolation becomes more tragic after seeing Peggy Carter, a long-time friend, living in an elderly house. The contrasting portrayal of age is a strong reminder of the enduring difficulty that Rogers is facing. Including this minor sub-plot serves as a perfect emotional pay-off since it establishes a part of the hero that we can actually care about. Shortly after, the questions and mysteries begin: with a car chase following Nick Fury by an unknown team and a “heartless” masked villain, named The Winter Soldier.

To counterweigh the dark plot, a few effectively humorous scenes take over. One of which is Steve’s attempt at understanding the 21st century which includes a notebook for a list of things to do ranging from eating spicy Thai foods to Steve Jobs, go figure.

With the Russo brothers in the director’s seat, things seemed quite uncertain at first—after all, most of their work involved comedies. However, it’s clear that they are a perfect match for comic book adapted movies. The action sequences are very well orchestrated. Their realistic rendering of the Falcon’s flight is elegantly shown: the motion as he flies high up in the air and takes deep dives down is a captivating and transporting experience.

The film adopts multiple styles, including an undercover raid, a spectacular car chase with Nick Fury, and a marvelous fight-off between the Winter Soldier and Captain America. The collective fight scene between the villain and the protagonist is intense in nature but also liberating. The moment Cap’s shield collides with the metallic force of the soldier, a strong reverberation propagates towards the audience’s seats. The climax of this fight-off fortunately strays away from the overly exaggerated Iron Man 3 firework ending and instead portrays the true definition of a hero encompassing much of the sacrificial ideals.

Forgetting Natasha Romanoff, played by Scarlett Johansson, would be very remiss since she is one of the most entertaining characters in the film. Her sexy and acrobatic moves are impressively shot with focuses on almost every angle. Her performance alone should warrant her a stand-alone movie; there is a lot that needs to be uncovered about this feisty superheroine. 

Running at almost 130 minutes, the Captain America sequel spends a tad too much time on the action. Unlike other superhero movies, however, it doesn’t have a dire effect on important aspects such as character progression and plot cohesiveness.

Without delving into the details of the plot and spoilers, another success from the film is its preeminence in not only portraying highly entertaining sequences but also highlighting social and political concerns of contemporary relevance, including intrusion of privacy and governmental deceit.

The Avengers was an all through excitement, but Captain America: The Winter Soldier adds to that; it is a breathlessly captivating and often complex action-thriller mostly due to its focus on the humanity and frailty of the characters. With a more mature plot and interesting characters, Marvel’s latest entry is the best superhero film from The Avengers universe even though it indulges in a few extra minutes.

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