Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Movie Review #15: Captain America: The Winter Soldier

The fourth movie I watched on the way home from Japan was Ender's Game, but the movie was cut short as the plane was landing in Los Angeles. Since I never saw the end (it stopped right at Ender's last mission), I've decided not to review the movie nor count it as one of the movies I've finished until I've actually seen the rest.

That said, this weekend Laura and I went to see the new Captain America movie. Short review: it was very fun: a movie with guts enough to shake up the Marvel universe with style. I recommend it.


After Loki's attack in The Avengers, Steve Rogers find himself adjusting to the modern America. Meanwhile, he's an important asset of SHIELD, helping them on priority missions that need his expertise.

However, Steve soon finds himself questioning what he's fighting for and the people he's been serving. In this new America, in an era of espionage and conspiracy, is there room for an honest, good-natured soldier?


Captain America: The Winter Soldier is about freedom.

Wait, no, that's too easy. Captain America is always about freedom.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is about being honest. In a world of spying, lying, and backstabbing, Steve Rogers is the only one offended by anything less than full disclosure. SHIELD is an agency founded on secrets, jealously guarding its knowledge, its plans, and even its true purpose.

Rogers demands answers and, being the rather important person he is, Director Fury relents. And when Rogers learns about Project Insight (a trio of permanent-flight helicarriers that, with its satellite targeting system, can eliminate threats before they become a problem), he recognizes the project as being monstrous and leaves, disgusted.

Steve turns out to be more right than he knows, as SHIELD's secrecy comes back to haunt it: agents of SHIELD have been covertly steering the agency toward the will of Hydra, the world-domination organization from the previous Captain America film. Recognizing that SHIELD is corrupt, Director Fury and Black Widow both begin the process of revealing SHIELD's secrets, risking exposure of their own secrets in the process.

Meanwhile, Steve faces the eponymous Winter Soldier, an assassin with a bionic arm. After some fights, the Winter Soldier is revealed to be Steve's old partner, Bucky, who had been kept alive by Hydra to do their dirty work for the past 70 years. By being honest and earnest with his old friend at great risk to himself, Steve manages to break through years of conditioning to at least give the Winter Soldier a moment of reflection, to rethink his identity.

There are many things I like about this movie, so I'll start at the top: Captain America is probably my favorite super hero at this point. I've never read the comics, so this opinion is completely based on the movies. In an age of grim, brooding superheroes, or heroes that need awful habits like lechery or abuse to balance out their heroism, Captain America is a breath of fresh air. He's earnest and good-natured, with genuine faith in humanity despite itself. He manages to be all of this without his movies feeling campy. He's more Superman than Superman these days, but better because, in the end, he's mortal, unlike several of his friends.

In fact, seeing him and Black Widow fight in this movie is much more exciting than, say, watching Thor fight, because (narrative invincibility aside) both of them are mortal humans who can, in fact, be killed if hit by the right bullet. Heck, there was even a moment when I thought maybe Nick Fury had really been killed, though I quickly saw through that just as I saw through Agent Coulson's "death."

Also, I really liked my friend Aaron's comparison of this movie to a Metal Gear plot. The movie has all the right ingredients: secret government plots, secret terrorist plots that take advantage of secret government plots, Raiden (basically), and pretty much everything else just short of Solid Snake himself.

Oh, and Falcon's wings were awesome. In fact, the whole character was done well, from the introduction to the progression of what seemed like a minor character into one of the primary heroes of the movie.

My two biggest complaints are the use of shaky cameras, especially at the beginning, which made it hard to keep up with fights sometimes, and the weird physics of Cap's magic yo-yo shield.


I'd put this movie about on par with The Avengers, for different reasons. I'm looking forward to more Captain America in the future.


  1. Once I just conceptualized Captain America as having Paladin levels, the character fell into place for me. I like him quite a bit now.

    And did you catch Nick Fury's tombstone at the end?

    1. I didn't make the connection at the time, but yeah, I noticed it afterward.