Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Movie Name: Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Year of Release: 2014
Director: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Stars: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Redford, Anthony Mackie, Cobie Smulders, Sebastian Stan, Frank Grillo, Emily VanCamp, Haley Atwell, Toby Jones, Jenny Agutter, Callan Mulvey, Maximiliano Hernandez
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 6

Marvel's continuous output of comic book characters continues, this time around with a sequel to Joe Johnston's "Captain America: The First Avenger", which came out in 2011. The directors this time around, are Anthony and Joe Russo, primarily known for their comedy work and for their extensive experience directing TV episodes from a multitude of shows ("Happy Endings" and "Community" to name but a few). The sequel finds Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, adjusting to life in the 21st century, after being defrosted and the adventures that took place in "The Avengers". His peaceful existence is thrown into disarray quickly enough, as he becomes aware that the organization he thought he had destroyed, Hydra, is still very much in existence and with tentacles everywhere. It's up to him with the assistance of the resourceful Black Widow and Nick Fury, to stop the conspiracy and avoid the murder of millions of people.
By now, most of Marvel's features are a result of an impeccably oiled production facility. All films come out with a well structured pace, where the robust budget is quite visible, and where the visual effects are of course state of the art. Where these films always falter, sadly so, is the lack of a perspective that makes them unique, and the result of a directorial vision that is artistic and challenging. These films aim to entertain, no muss and no fuss. The sequel to "Captain America" is no exception to this mode, however it benefits from a smart screenplay, that digs into the paranoia thrillers from the 1970s (Sydney Pollack's "Three Days of the Condor" and Alan J. Pakula's "The Paralax View", spring to mind), to create a sense of unease and general conspiracy that surrounds the central heroes. Other than this, the film feels very standard and by the numbers in terms of character dynamics and development. Action is brought forth, and the sheer scale of the scenes is impressive, to an extent that almost becomes cartoonish. The quality of the visual effects is of course on display, but it's not enough to make this film a high mark for the Marvel Universe. Highlight goes to Robert Redford, for creating a character that is the exact opposite of the ones he created during most of his acting career.