Sunday, April 6, 2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Rare is the time I get to see a movie while it's in the theater. Yesterday however, while visiting Adepticon to pick up my Kickstarter rewards from Tectonic Craft Studios, my amigos and I had some time to kill and visited the local AMC Theater and saw movie, Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Very good movie and while I'm not sure it's the 'best' super hero movie or even the 'best' Marvel super hero movie, it's well worth watching.

One, while it uses a good deal of humor and has some catchy bits, it's also got a lot of gravitas to it. The situations are taken from many concerns people have these days in terms of security versus freedom. It may not be a movie of the times, but it is certainly reflective of the times.

Two, the action sequences are fantastic. I'm not one of those who mourns the death of 'shaky' camera when it comes to fight scenes, nor was I ever a fan of seeing little of the action in exchange for seeing some dude's face grimacing in pain and wondering what the hell was actually going on. The scenes are shot in enough detail and speed where you get the 'full effect' so to speak.

Three, the scenery. Not all of the action takes place in exactly the same spots. We have a battle on the freeway that is worthy of comparison to the Matrix II as well as many other great scenes.

Four, the characters. While this is a great Captain America moment, the 'secondary' characters like Nick Fury, Black Widow, and the Falcon, all have great moments of their own. They might not necessarily have the 'character' moments that Captain America himself does, but they get their share of the action.

If you're interested in getting more background on the comics this movie draws from, I recommend the following:

Captain America: Winter Soldier Vol 1: $3.99 in Kindle format.
Captain America: Winter Soldier Vol 2: $8.79 in Kindle format.
Captain America: Civil War: $3.99 in Kindle format.
The Death of Captain America Vol 1: $3.99 in Kindle format.
Captain America: Road to Reborn: $3.99 in Kindle format.
Captain America: Reborn: $3.99 in Kindle format.

Ed's strength in the comics, is that he was able to take elements like the Civil War that was going on in Marvel at the time and adapt them to the story he was already telling. A lot of these were on sale so they make a great jumping on point for those who enjoy comics.

I'll be doing spoilers next so for those who want no specific spoilers, read no further.

First, I'd like to thank Ed for breaking the rules of 'no one stays dead in the Marvel Universe except Bucky and Uncle Ben' For decades that was an excepted rule and was rarely broke. There was much fan angst about it when it happened but damn if a lot of great stories haven't come out of the whole thing.

In addition, while issues like work for hire and ownership of things continue to crop up in the comic industry, especially as the become mega movies, if you're able to, really LOOK and experience the movie, and then look and experience the original comic books. No, not the ones I'm suggesting you read about Winter Soldier, but like, Avengers #4. You know, the one from 50-60 years ago. Those comics, regardless of how great a footstep they started, have very little to do with the movies success today. Thank the current creators and artists who've made the movies, in my opinion, that much better than the previously were in decades past.

In terms of specifics, I thought that there was some weaknesses to the movie. When you look at villains, the Winter Soldier, due to his training and his physical augmentation in the form of at least a robotic arm, make a great foil for Captain America.

Someone like that is needed due to the sheer physical power Captain America brings in the movies. At the start of the movie, Steve, good old Captain America in civis, is lapping a fellow runner over and over and not actually trying to, he's just that good.

As the movie progresses and we see just how good he is, you might wonder, what can stop him? Apparently a super soldier who Steve knows and doesn't necessarily want to fight, but rather save, is the answer.

And again, the action sequences between the Winter Soldier and Captain America aren't the problem. It's that 'Bucky' isn't necessarily the villain. He's just the hammer if you will.

The real 'villain', Robert Redford playing Alexander Pierce, is completely wasted. We don't really get a good grip on why he does what he does or even what the whole 'Hydra' mission is about. It's hard for me to take it seriously when in his current position he's always got pretty much everything he wanted. There's really no 'agenda' outside of Pinky and the Brain methodology. What exactly would Pierce get in his new world order? He also gets so little screen time that I think his talents are wasted.

When building your villains, it's always great if the players have good fights and challenging fights. If they can use the environment around them and challenge their enemies in different ways while facing threats that might not normally be part of the standard.

But if the end result is some dweeb that doesn't really have an end game plan in mind? M'eh.

Another nice thing about the movie, is that it's essentially accepted that this is the Marvel Universe. They don't spent any time on the 'origin' of the Falcon. He's a soldier who happens to know how to use a specific type of super suit. We don't have to have a special origin tale to determine how he got it, or how Bucky as the Winter Soldier has a bionic arm. We can just accept those things now.

In terms of 'big', it's also great to see that the Marvel Studio isn't afraid to shake things up. By the end of the film, S.H.I.E.D. is in shambles and things appear to have taken a very different turn than anyone would probably have assumed they would. With the 'mega' structure that brought characters together previously, how will future movies like the Avengers work? How will the television series itself continue? Marvel has a little bit of a hook here with this option.