I reviewed phase 1 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe so now I will review Phase 2, in between book reviews of course. This one here is for Captain America the Winter Soldier.
The basic thrust of the film is Steve Rogers investigating the assassination attempt on Nick Fury and a possibile conspiracy within SHIELD. Joining him on this mission is fellow avenger Natasha Romanof and a new friend, Sam Wilson. Thus, it has a much different feel to it than his original. It is a spy movie instead of a war movie, which again, reflects Steve's temporal status as the "Man Out Of Time".
I watched a Marvel feature which pointed out that, unlike Thor 2 and Iron 3, this sequel will be truly different from the first because Steve Rogers is the "Man out of Time". He can't go back to his original setting after saving the day. This greatly informs the plot in many ways.
-->For one thing, it's funny. The running gag of Steve not getting modern cultural references is continued here: the first scene shows that he has a notebook of things he's missed and wants to understand. Then, much later, he understands when Natasha makes a War Games reference.
-->It's also dramatic. Steve comes from a time where there was a clear line between "good guys" and "bad guys" but here he starts to wonder if SHIELD is the former or the latter. As shown in many of the advertisements, he says "This isn't freedom, this is fear."
There's a theme Order vs Chaos in this film and it's played with to a greater extent than many examples. Both SHIELD and HYDRA represent Order in different aspects, the Knight in Sour Armor and the Knight Templar, respectively, and both of them are opposed to an nameless and shapeless Chaos. It's basically Fear and Lack of Control that they're opposing. In pursuit of this goal, they force Captain America and his allies into a form of heroic Chaos, who in turn, are trying to return the setting to a nobler Order.
I didn't find any plotholes, fridge logic, or otherwise anything not structually sound plotwise. I looked but I couldn't find anything.
Considering the bomb shell that is dropped here, Marvel Studios does an admirable job closing the movie's initial conflict. At the same time, they drop a number of sequel hooks. Simultaneously, I am delighted at the closure of one MCU project and I'm excited for the next.
This movie is the first to truly examine Steve's Fist out of Temporal Waters problem. Avengers throws him right into the plot of alien invasion. Here we see how he's adapting; learning how to use the internet, catching up on things he missed, and enjoying the much better food and lack of polio.
He's also a SHIELD agent and there is significant friction betwee him and his boss, Nick Fury. It's like a Knight in Shining Armor working for a Knight in Sour Armor. What I like about his portrayal here is how he be Captain America, this paragon of virtue and integrity, without becoming a cheesy and/or jingostic figure.
This is also the first film to take a solid look at the internals of SHIELD and its agents. Nick Fury, for instance, is shown in his capacity as Director of SHIELD instead of Recruiter of Avengers. We see the sort of things he does and the politics that he has to manipulate. There's also more about the man himself and his history. Then there's Natasha Romanof. While we still don't know what happened in Budapest with Hawkeye, more light is shed on her past and she herself is further developed as a character.
As for villains, it's quite a contrast with the original, and again, it makes a poigant statement for our Man Out Of Time. Red Skull was a megalomaniac Obviously Evil Take Over the World kind of guy. The villain for this movie is subtler, more sinister, and therefore more dangerous. Alexander Pierce pulled the wool over on someone as paranoid and crazy prepared as Nick Fury, and his Project Insight is much scarier than the Chitarui invasion. Aside from the fact that it has flying and self-sufficent aircraft carriers, it feels like something that could happen in real life, or the near future at any rate. What's worse, he used an organization that was supposed to protect the world from people like him to do it.
This movie looks and sounds amazing. From the hand-to-hand between Captain America and the Winter Soldier, to the Helicarrier muntions, to Sam's Falcon suit, it's all breathaking.
The pacing is good too. We get a ground level view of what the world is like for Steve, then the plot builds up into a intriguing spy thing that becomes another epic climax.
For those that scorn "mindless superhero genre action" there's plenty of emotional moments here; plenty of scenes showcasing conflicting philosophies.
Trickster Eric Novels gives "Captain America the Winter Soldier" an A+