Thursday, 27 March 2014

Movie Review: Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Previous Review: Divergent
Next Review: Transcendence

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the third film in Phase 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (after last year's Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World). Compared with the mighty giant green monster, the hammer wielding Norse thunder god or the 'genius, philanthropist, billionaire, playboy' armour man, the Captain was never quite as appealing as the rest of the 'Unusuals'. Steve Rogers is portrayed as an old-fashioned, straightforward, honest, courageous, sincere, patriotic superhero. This makes him a less-interesting, boring character in the eyes of the audience. Moreover, as Tony Stark said before, which pretty much sums it up about him, "Everything special about you came out of a bottle!"

Most film-goers would know that Marvel films are famous for its bright, fun and not-so-serious approach to its storytelling, together with some catchy, witty dialogues. This film is a game changer in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This time around, Marvel made a bold move and decided to take a different approach on things: To make a Captain America sequel with a more serious, darker plot development and more face-to-face close-range hand combat fights. What should have been a typical superhero film, now becomes a conspiracy-espionage thriller.

The film sets two years after the events that happened in New York city and the Captain still struggling to adjust himself to the modern world, with no apparent social life or love interest, which is why Natasha/Black Widow tries to introduce or recommend him some cute girls in S.H.I.E.L.D. for him to date with. However, he is shocked when he found out that the very governmental organisation he is working for is not what it seems to be, which leaves him in doubt on who to trust, as the Cap said in the trailer, “This isn't freedom. This is fear”. Soon, he finds himself entangled in a conspiracy that puts millions of innocent lives at risk.

The film produces well-choreographed action sequences: thrilling car chases, gun fights and close-range combat. Although the cinematography is a bit dodgy due to the shaky-cam techniques used for depicting the chaotic moments, the fight scenes between the Winter Soldier and the Captain is still fantastic and serves as one of the film's highlights. The audience finally gets to see how the Captain's shield is utilised effectively in both offensive and defensive combat situations. It also good to see again how Natasha kicks ass in the film.

All actors delivered decent performances in the film. Once again, Chris Evans and Scarlett Johannson proved that they fit their roles well, adding more depth to the characters they portray in the film. Sam Wilson/Falcon is another welcome addition to the Marvel franchise and hopefully he will appear again in the Avengers sequel. Unfortunately, despite the film's title, the winter soldier is not a complex villain and doesn't appear much in the film. It's such a shame to just show him as a formidable physical fighter who's capable of challenging the Captain, when he could be so much more than that.

The film is well-scripted and filled with suspense. It highlights some important socio-political issues such as government surveillance, corruption and control in its storytelling. Although the twists in the film is fairly easy to predict, the sequel is still a marked improvement compared to its predecessor, Captain America: The First Avenger. The story unfolds gradually and has huge implications for the franchise. Marvel Cinematic Universe is not going to be the same again. What's going to happen next? How the story is going to progress in Avengers: Age of Ultron, after what had happened in this film? Interesting.

Rating: 8.5/10

Be warned. This is not the typical fun, 'not-so-serious', entertaining Marvel film that you used to watch in the past. You might like it or find it a bore. In order to recognize some of the characters in the film, you need to remember some of Marvel's Phase One films. Most importantly, you need to watch Captain America: The First Avenger before watching this to understand the plot.

Note: Guess you don't need me to remind you to stay for the mid-credit and post-credit scenes. It foreshadows what's going to happen next by introducing a lesser-known supervillain and two new characters, 'Miracles' (another name for 'mutants' because of screen rights issues) which going to be in the Avengers sequel, Age of Ultron. It further confirms that one of weapons depicted in The Avengers is indeed one of the six infinity stones.

Previous Review: Divergent
Next Review: Transcendence

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