Friday, April 4, 2014
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
So far, Phase 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been a mixed bag. I liked "Iron Man 3" and "Thor: The Dark World", but I'd be lying if I said I loved them (I haven't viewed either a second time, despite owning them on Blu-ray, whereas I've been back to the theaters more than once for Phase One). Not to mention that the television series, "Agents of SHIELD", has turned out to be a disgusting cesspool of the worst television has to offer. I was beginning to wonder if the bubble had finally burst. While time will still tell on that score, "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" has restored my faith in the MCU.
For a long time, we as a society have been having a debate about freedom versus security. Is it worth protecting our ideals to keep people safe? As our freedoms erode little by little every year, it's clear which side is winning. "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" takes Steve Rogers, the comic book character who represents our ideals more than any other, and thrusts him head first into the midst of this debate. Seventy years ago, he fought a war to preserve freedom... what some have called the last clean war. The last war that needed to be fought. In the present day, after what happened in New York (the beauty of this line is that it describes both Loki's attack and the events of September 11th), things have changed... and more and more people are willingly handing their freedom over so they can be protected from the bad guys. Is the trade off worth it? Can those in power be trusted with the responsibility? Who decides who is and isn't a threat to society? These questions are what make this a perfect Captain America story.
Of course, this is also an action movie and I do not believe anyone will be disappointed on that score. The action scenes are innovative and suspenseful... while in the back of my mind, I knew they'd make it, there were moments when I forgot that... which rarely happens when this jaded movie-goer watches one of these.
Chris Evans turns in his best performance as Steve Rogers, I've wanted to see him adjust to the modern era and this film handles it beautifully. Scarlett Johansson should finally silence all critics who have doubted whether she is suited to the role of Black Widow as she really gets to show off the master assassin's human side... combine this with the trailer for "Lucy" that was attached to the movie, and it's a crime that there still isn't a "Black Widow" movie. Sebastian Stan's turn as the Winter Soldier lives up the hype; a silent and deadly killer akin to the Terminator. And, of course, a great performance by screen legend, Robert Redford as head of SHIELD, Alexander Pierce.
I'm being vague on purpose as I do not want to spoil this movie for anybody, as it now stands on a pedestal with the best comic book movies. Is it the best of the MCU? Last night, walking out of the theater, I said yes. Now, having the chance to sleep on it, I still say yes. My only complaint is that the movie ended, and I need to wait to see what happens next. I loved it, and I give it an A+, two thumbs up, five stars, the highest of grades. Go see it.