There is nothing that sucks the fun and excitement out of a movie more than reading movie reviews. Sometimes it’s physically painful. Movie reviewers, by and large, spend more time reviewing the perception of other people judging them for liking/not liking a movie than the movie itself, and using generic cut-and-paste paragraphs to describe anything within a genre (Indie film? “Transcendent!” Action film? “Some ‘slam bang’ moments that didn’t add up to much!”)
And what the frak is a ‘popcorn movie’? Can this term be used any more, and have any less meaning?
As much as I hate reading them, I do get a lot of request to comment on, and review, movies myself – something I have little interest in doing.
I believe the best time to review a movie is years after it’s been out – once you’ve seen it in the theaters, purchased the Blu-Ray, and had time to reflect on it after multiple viewings. During the ‘sugar shock’ that occurs during the initial release, you’re still a slave to your expectations – plus you’re all pumped up on adrenaline, dopamine, rum, ecstasy, etc. (you guys all take ecstasy before a major movie release, right? No? OK forget I said that…)
BUT - there has been an abundance of hyperbole surrounding The Winter Soldier, soooo, instead of writing a review, I want to comment on the top 5 things I see repeated over and over again about the movie.
1. CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER IS THE BEST MARVEL MOVIE RELEASE EVER (BY FAR)
It’s awesome. A very, very awesome movie. That’s enough of a compliment. To start saying it’s better, or ‘way’ better than other Marvel movies (namely The Avengers) is a little silly, IMO – especially this early on.
The Avengers had Loki. Iron Man. The battle of New York. Hulk unexpectedly punching Thor (and leaping through the air to catch a falling Tony Stark). Tony sacrificing himself to save the city. “That guy is playing Galaga!” Loki getting ragdolled into oblivion. Shwarma. The Thanos tease. The list goes on and on. It was one iconic moment after another, all seamlessly woven into a film that literally had people cheering in the theater I saw it in.
Cheering. Like it was the freaking 80s.
When The Avengers became a multi-billion dollar success, it became somewhat less cool to admit you’re in love with it – it’s the ‘Facebook syndrome’: once grandma starts Liking your pictures and commenting on posts, using it became marginally embarrassing. I get it. Plus Winter Soldier is all shiny and new, and your Aunt Helen has no idea what Hydra is, so you can maintain your comic store cred and still enjoy it.
Is The Winter Soldier a really, really great movie? Yes. Absolutely.
The bestest of all time, evaaaar – waaay better than The Avengers? Too early to make that call. Come back this time next year and tell me if you still feel the same way. At the moment, just love it for what it is.
2. NICK FURY AND BLACK WIDOW FINALLY GOT THEIR MOMENTS TO SHINE
I would argue that Black Widow had her moments in The Avengers, and got her chance to kick an ample amount of ass (and show off her spy-ness, too) – but she definitely got to be center-stage in this one, right alongside Cap himself.
And it was nice to see more of Sam Jackson reprising his role of Nick Fury, this time in a much more central role. Jackson’s charisma is off the charts, and just being on-screen is enough to give any film a shot in the arm (he actually made the Robocop reboot marginally watchable just by being there).
3. FALCON WAS AWESOME!
Anthony Mackie is a good actor, and did a fine job as Sam Wilson, but if there is one gripe I have about Winter Soldier (however minor) it’s that Falcon’s wings came off as a little silly. It feels like something out of a mid-90s Bond movie starring Pierce Brosnan than tech from the 2014 Marvel movie universe. I’m sure in 1969 the wings were cool when they were introduced in a comic, but now they seem like a relic.
Plus – hello – we have IRON MAN. A flying robotic suit that can shoot lasers and missiles, and do all sorts of other insanely cool shit. Strapping big flappy wings to your back just comes off as a little weird after we’ve seen Tony Stark doing his thing in 4 different movies.
4. THE ACTION WAS THE BEST WE’VE SEEN IN A MARVEL MOVIE
It was pretty incredible – from Fury’s car scene to Cap and Winter Soldier going toe-to-toe on multiple occasions. And holy shit did the helicarriers look amazing.
I am not a big fan of the Bourne Identity-style shaky cam, though. A few times the camera zoomed impossibly close during hand-to-hand combat, and the action was simply a blur of still images (possibly made worse by the 3D glasses – I won’t know until I buy the Blu-Ray and rewatch).
Overall this was a tiny gripe. The action was first-rate, and it was easily on par with the fantastic set pieces we’ve been treated to in Thor, Iron Man and The Avengers.
5. THIS WAS THE DARKEST MARVEL MOVIE SO FAR
While I think the term ‘dark’ gets tossed around so often it’s losing its meaning (much like ‘popcorn movie’) I think it would be better articulated by saying Captain America: The Winter Soldier was edgy, more complex and more culturally relevant, given its parallels to NSA spying, pre-emptive assassinations, etc.
I think that the tone definitely deviated from other Marvel movies in the sense that it felt more like a spy thriller at times than a comic book movie, although it didn’t shy away from the sci-fi/fantasy elements that make Marvel so much fun.
Overall this was a near-flawless movie going experience, and I can’t wait to buy it and watch it a zillion more times.
Did you love it? Really, really love it? Let me know in the comments (or on Twitter, Facebook – wherever…I’m easy to find)