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Captain America: The Winter Soldier


Peter T Chattaway
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NBooth: where does Loki in The Avengers fit into your schema?

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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  • 3 months later...

 

The trailer feels like a mix of Into Darkness and the trailer for Iron Man 2

Yeah, which is why the trailer doesn't do anything for me.

 

 

What if we add in The Matrix Reloaded?

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7SlILk2WMTI

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  • 1 month later...

While some of us were excited tonight about posting reviews of next week's big blockbuster, some people were posting their thoughts on the blockbuster that comes out the week after *that*.

 

Drew McWeeny's in love.

 

Scott Foundas, too.

 

Ditto Todd McCarthy.

 

But David Poland says it's "a really bad movie."

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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  • 3 weeks later...

A few thoughts on why Captain America is my favorite superhero (I liked CA: TWS a lot):

 

 

Steve Rogers has doubts, but he always follows his moral compass. And it inspires those around him to step up to the plate, choose the right thing, or - in the case of this film’s titular character, The Winter Soldier, reevaluate what he thinks he knows. What makes Steve Rogers - Captain America - a superhero is not the supersoldier serum that gave him the ability to use his human body to the peak of its ability, or his shield made from the strongest metal on earth, but his heart and his will to do the right thing. And that has always made even the most superpowered heroes around him inspired to fight on.

"It's a dangerous business going out your front door." -- J.R.R. Tolkien
"I want to believe in art-induced epiphanies." -- Josie
"I would never be dismissive of pop entertainment; it's much too serious a matter for that." -- NBooth

"If apologetics could prove God, I would lose all faith in Him." -- Josie

"What if--just what if--the very act of storytelling is itself redemptive? What if gathering up the scraps and fragments of a disordered life and binding them between the pages of a book in all of their fragmentary disorder is itself a gambit against that disorder?" -- NBooth

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I like the *character* a lot -- both the way he's written and the way Chris Evans plays him. But this film lost me right around, oh, this scene:

 

 

This is one of those movie-cliche bits where you have a long, long car chase that's been going all over town -- and it comes right after a sustained assault on Nick Fury's car, particularly its doors and windows -- and then, *just* at the point when Fury seems to be in the clear, A Mysterious Man Appears On The Street Right In Front Of Him and proceeds to use the one weapon that nobody else had used yet, which of course does the trick.

 

So of course, you start to wonder, "How did The Winter Soldier know that the car chase would end up *there*? How did he know to stand in That Exact Spot?" And, "Why didn't the guys attacking Nick Fury just use this weapon from the start?"

 

And quite frankly, the movie never really recovered for me after this point.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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I like the *character* a lot -- both the way he's written and the way Chris Evans plays him. But this film lost me right around, oh, this scene:

 

 

This is one of those movie-cliche bits where you have a long, long car chase that's been going all over town -- and it comes right after a sustained assault on Nick Fury's car, particularly its doors and windows -- and then, *just* at the point when Fury seems to be in the clear, A Mysterious Man Appears On The Street Right In Front Of Him and proceeds to use the one weapon that nobody else had used yet, which of course does the trick.

 

So of course, you start to wonder, "How did The Winter Soldier know that the car chase would end up *there*? How did he know to stand in That Exact Spot?" And, "Why didn't the guys attacking Nick Fury just use this weapon from the start?"

 

That's a fair question. Or, why wasn't the Winter Soldier there at the very beginning of the assault on Fury's vehicle?

 

That said, I'm willing to forgive that moment - and a handful of others (the whole Zola sequence is rife with continuity questions if not outright errors) - as I am more willing to forgive any such questions in a superhero/fairytale film.

 

I'm more impressed that they managed to give Nick Fury a full-fledged action scene where he didn't need to run (as requested by Sam Jackson to Joss Whedon for The Avengers - and I can only assume he would have carried over here).

 

I'm somewhat predisposed to like a Captain America film as long as they get the character right. And I gotta say, I think by-and-large they did.

"It's a dangerous business going out your front door." -- J.R.R. Tolkien
"I want to believe in art-induced epiphanies." -- Josie
"I would never be dismissive of pop entertainment; it's much too serious a matter for that." -- NBooth

"If apologetics could prove God, I would lose all faith in Him." -- Josie

"What if--just what if--the very act of storytelling is itself redemptive? What if gathering up the scraps and fragments of a disordered life and binding them between the pages of a book in all of their fragmentary disorder is itself a gambit against that disorder?" -- NBooth

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I also like how Evans plays the character--they get some nice usage out of the recurring gags of Rogers catching up with all that he's missed--but I didn't like the film much.  I took my ten year-old, Virginia, who loves the Marvel movies pretty unreservedly, and she got pretty exasperated when it was revealed that the film coulda been subtitled NICK FURY'S NOT DEAD HE'S SURELY ALIVE.  Unlike THOR: THE DARK WORLD, she didn't tell me in the lobby afterward that she wanted to get the DVD upon its release (thankfully, she backed off that one, too).  The Fury tombstone in-gag was simultaneously cute and awful.  I can't decide which.  

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I also like how Evans plays the character--they get some nice usage out of the recurring gags of Rogers catching up with all that he's missed--but I didn't like the film much.

 

I like Lawrence Toppman's assessment: "This sequel is, by design, entirely absorbing and satisfying without being one whit memorable."

I found each individual part agreeable enough while I was watching it, although it goes on too long, and the second half succumbs to Epically Epic Spectacular Save The World Syndrome.

I like the human-scaled stuff in the first half, the hand-to-hand combat, the running on rooftops, Cap pushing back on Fury's surveillance state politics, Sam Wilson and the wounded warrior project. By the time we get to airships the size of the Chrysler Building and a cockamamie computerized master plan to save the world by SPOILER REDACTED WHO GIVES A FLIP ANYWAY, my eyes had long since glazed over like a frosted donut.

 

I took my ten year-old, Virginia, who loves the Marvel movies pretty unreservedly, and she got pretty exasperated when it was revealed that the film coulda been subtitled NICK FURY'S NOT DEAD HE'S SURELY ALIVE.

 

Heh. That is a joke I would not have gotten a little over 12 hours ago.

But seriously, she didn't really think they had killed off Samuel L? Well, ten is pretty young.

 

Unlike THOR: THE DARK WORLD, she didn't tell me in the lobby afterward that she wanted to get the DVD upon its release (thankfully, she backed off that one, too).

 

Oh, I definitely prefer this film to The Dark World. (Maybe your daughter is just that older and more mature since The Dark World was in theaters?)

At least The Winter Soldier gestured in the direction of actual ideas. Plus, Robert Redford as Robert Redford > Christopher Eccleston As The Orc King. (Granted, Tom Hiddleston > Sebastian Stan, but Hiddleloki is getting a little overexposed, and The Dark World doesn't know what to do with him anyway.

 

The Fury tombstone in-gag was simultaneously cute and awful. I can't decide which.

 

Wait, what? I missed this.

Edited by SDG

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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I also like how Evans plays the character--they get some nice usage out of the recurring gags of Rogers catching up with all that he's missed--but I didn't like the film much.

 

I like Lawrence Toppman's assessment: "This sequel is, by design, entirely absorbing and satisfying without being one whit memorable."

I found each individual part agreeable enough while I was watching it, although it goes on too long, and the second half succumbs to Epically Epic Spectacular Save The World Syndrome.

I like the human-scaled stuff in the first half, the hand-to-hand combat, the running on rooftops, Cap pushing back on Fury's surveillance state politics, Sam Wilson and the wounded warrior project. By the time we get to airships the size of the Chrysler Building and a cockamamie computerized master plan to save the world by SPOILER REDACTED WHO GIVES A FLIP ANYWAY, my eyes had long since glazed over like a frosted donut.

 

I took my ten year-old, Virginia, who loves the Marvel movies pretty unreservedly, and she got pretty exasperated when it was revealed that the film coulda been subtitled NICK FURY'S NOT DEAD HE'S SURELY ALIVE.

 

Heh. That is a joke I would not have gotten a little over 12 hours ago.

But seriously, she didn't really think they had killed off Samuel L? Well, ten is pretty young.

 

Unlike THOR: THE DARK WORLD, she didn't tell me in the lobby afterward that she wanted to get the DVD upon its release (thankfully, she backed off that one, too).

 

Oh, I definitely prefer this film to The Dark World. (Maybe your daughter is just that older and more mature since The Dark World was in theaters?)

At least The Winter Soldier gestured in the direction of actual ideas. Plus, Robert Redford as Robert Redford > Christopher Eccleston As The Orc King. (Granted, Tom Hiddleston > Sebastian Stan, but Hiddleloki is getting a little overexposed, and The Dark World doesn't know what to do with him anyway.

 

The Fury tombstone in-gag was simultaneously cute and awful. I can't decide which.

 

Wait, what? I missed this.

 

 

It jumped out at me. What Bible verse would you put on Samuel L. Jackson's tombstone?

"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut

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The Fury tombstone in-gag was simultaneously cute and awful. I can't decide which.

Wait, what? I missed this.

It jumped out at me. What Bible verse would you put on Samuel L. Jackson's tombstone?

Believe it or not, I've never seen Pulp Fiction, but I assume you mean "Ezekiel 25:17."

Edited by SDG

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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Yeah, the tombstone reads "The path of the righteous man..."

 

Steven, she's always been a fan of classical mythology, and we spent lots of time reading the D'Aulere (sp?) Greek and Norse books, so the Thor-world was tailor-made to her sweet spot, and she overlooks a lot of the clunkiness of those movies.  She likes what Hiddleston does with Loki, and I'm with her.  Plus, Eccleston's presence meant the film would be graded on the curve, much in the same way that I imagine Karen Gillan being in Guardians of the Galaxy means I'll be seeing that, too.  It doesn't matter if they're unrecognizable,

 

I think she assumed Fury was really dead, especially since you see him lying there without any vitals.  Me, I was hoping.

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I actually thought Nick Fury *had* died but I figured it didn't matter because, y'know, Agent Coulson.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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I found each individual part agreeable enough while I was watching it, although it goes on too long, and the second half succumbs to Epically Epic Spectacular Save The World Syndrome.

I agree, I felt the same way watching the last 30 minutes of Avengers.  Blowing up CGI futuristic ships gets old after a while.  Although I must admit, I too loved the hand-to-hand combat sequences.  It helped with adding a realistic feel to some of the movie's action scenes.  Cap and the Winter Soldier fighting reminded me of the Dark Knight Rises when Bane and Batman deke it out. 

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I found each individual part agreeable enough while I was watching it, although it goes on too long, and the second half succumbs to Epically Epic Spectacular Save The World Syndrome.

I agree, I felt the same way watching the last 30 minutes of Avengers.  Blowing up CGI futuristic ships gets old after a while.  Although I must admit, I too loved the hand-to-hand combat sequences.  It helped with adding a realistic feel to some of the movie's action scenes.  Cap and the Winter Soldier fighting reminded me of the Dark Knight Rises when Bane and Batman deke it out. 

 

 

The thing is, The Avengers kept a human element throughout the big action finale. We see Cap and Black Widow getting worn down and showing signs of fatigue, moments of lightness throughout (the skeptical police who quickly gain respect for Cap; "Hulk: smash"; "I…I don't see how that's a party"; "Why not, it'll be fun"; Hulk sucker-punching Thor), etc. The Winter Soldier's big action finale has none of this. 

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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Death in the superhero genre is so meaningless now. Even when someone dies, there's always some cheap way they can resurrect the character, so I guess even the fatigue doesn't mean much to me. But you do strike on the thing that makes Captain American hard to connect with: he lacks any kind of weakness in this film. It's the same problem I have with Superman as a character, but at least he has the Clark Kent dynamic going for him. 

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Death in the superhero genre is so meaningless now. Even when someone dies, there's always some cheap way they can resurrect the character, so I guess even the fatigue doesn't mean much to me. But you do strike on the thing that makes Captain American hard to connect with: he lacks any kind of weakness in this film. It's the same problem I have with Superman as a character, but at least he has the Clark Kent dynamic going for him. 

 

Hasn't Marvel comics (and maybe DC?) been pulling this for decades, though? They've killed off plenty of characters over the years, but most of them come back in some form. 

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I mean now as in the post 1993 era after the "death" of Superman. There's a really good, hilarious video (with lots of profanity) done about The Death and Return of Superman and how it ruined superhero deaths.

 

Because, what, Phoenix didn't do that? Isn't Jean Grey comicdom's pivotal "killed off for real, then brought back" character? At least, in the Marvel universe, which is what I know best. Either way, Superman everyone surely knew was coming back eventually. Certainly the folks who killed him off were under no illusions on that point. But Chris Claremont really, truly intended to kill Jean Grey dead, forever. In some meaningful way I think you can blame John Byrne and Jean Grey for the revisionist tendency to resurrect dead characters (although he also subverted it by pretending to bring back Guardian and Iron Fist before revealing that, nope, they really were dead all along).

 

There was also Elektra, whom Frank Miller killed for real in Daredevil 181, then literally raised from the dead in 190. But those stories, within a year of each other, are close enough (and from the same storyteller) that they feel like a single story rather than a revisionistic act undermining a previous story. 

Edited by SDG

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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The thing is, The Avengers kept a human element throughout the big action finale. We see Cap and Black Widow getting worn down and showing signs of fatigue, moments of lightness throughout (the skeptical police who quickly gain respect for Cap; "Hulk: smash"; "I…I don't see how that's a party"; "Why not, it'll be fun"; Hulk sucker-punching Thor), etc. The Winter Soldier's big action finale has none of this. 

 

 

This is a great point. But then Whedon's entire career has been made around this balance you describe. The finale here is certainly much more heavy. But it doesn't take Cap in any wrong directions as a character - he "wins" his final showdown with the Winter Soldier through exactly what makes Cap Cap - his grit and integrity. It could have been better. But it also could have been a lot worse.

 

But you do strike on the thing that makes Captain American hard to connect with: he lacks any kind of weakness in this film. It's the same problem I have with Superman as a character, but at least he has the Clark Kent dynamic going for him. 

 

I just don't see that comparison. Among top tier superheroes Cap is about as far from Superman powers-wise as it gets. Granted, in this film he's not going up against anyone with abilities that overtly outmatch his own - but again, look at The Avengers where he takes on Loki without hesitation, jumps in between Thor and Iron Man, etc. The thing about Cap is that he is constantly outmatched, but nonetheless garners the respect of allies and even foes at times. And unlike Batman, who is driven by revenge and justice, Cap is driven by a moral compass and his integrity.

"It's a dangerous business going out your front door." -- J.R.R. Tolkien
"I want to believe in art-induced epiphanies." -- Josie
"I would never be dismissive of pop entertainment; it's much too serious a matter for that." -- NBooth

"If apologetics could prove God, I would lose all faith in Him." -- Josie

"What if--just what if--the very act of storytelling is itself redemptive? What if gathering up the scraps and fragments of a disordered life and binding them between the pages of a book in all of their fragmentary disorder is itself a gambit against that disorder?" -- NBooth

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The thing is, The Avengers kept a human element throughout the big action finale. We see Cap and Black Widow getting worn down and showing signs of fatigue, moments of lightness throughout (the skeptical police who quickly gain respect for Cap; "Hulk: smash"; "I…I don't see how that's a party"; "Why not, it'll be fun"; Hulk sucker-punching Thor), etc. The Winter Soldier's big action finale has none of this. 

 

 

I guess we've been through this before, but I just don't see this. The big action finale is where THE AVENGERS loses me. Quips do not equal a human element to me; I found the finale of CAPTAIN AMERICA 2 actually better in terms of staging the action and showing Cap's strategy (more or less unclear in THE AVENGERS), though CAPTAIN AMERICA 2 still falls prey to the movie trope of delaying the character so that the countdown is only averted at the last second.

 

I enjoy both films to an extent, but I actually give THE WINTER SOLDIER the edge.

"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut

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I'm so apathetic to Marvel Studios' product that I probably won't see The Winter Soldier, but this conversation is moving into interesting waters regarding the serious limitations of comic book superhero stories. The refusal on the part of comic books writing staff and leadership to take death seriously has undermined comic books' mythic quality. It's a symptom of a larger refusal to give these characters actual endings. To his credit, Nolan tried to break away from this in his Batman adaptation, but even he couldn't bring himself to really kill Batman.

 

These problems are magnified by most superhero films capitulating toward action film genre expectations, a genre that tends to trivialize death in its haphazard regard for narrative and overwhelming appetite for violent spectacle.

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