CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER
So, my review embargo is off and since I’ve already handed in my German review to my magazine review a while ago, I thought to give another English overview of my opinion… Also, from now on askbox is open to any question, no spoiler barriers anymore at all. Everything will be put under a read more and tagged with spoiler though.
Heavy spoilers under the cut. Beware.
People who have been following this tumblr will be aware that I dreaded the Captain America sequel for a variety of reasons. Marvel’s misleading publicity campaigns (already nerve-racking with Loki’s overexposure for Thor: The Dark World) made it hard for someone like me, who loves Clint’s and Natasha’s close relationship in The Avengers more than anything in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, to look forward to a movie that so clearly excluded said relationship.
After being spoilered on my main concerns from people who had seen the movie before me, I attended my first press viewing on 10th of March, 2014, a little calmer, though. Threatening fandom shipping wars and character discrepancies avoided, I’ve been able to take this movie in with still a little weary eyes- don’t expect any better treatment than in the last two years in this movie if you’re a Hawkeye fan… but open-minded and very much looking forward to see Natasha finally get the attention she deserves.
I wasn’t disappointed. The movie gets a solid 8,5 out of 10 for me, which is really good considering only my very favorites get a 10. 1 point minus for the soundtrack that isn’t bad but mediocre. Another 0.5 points minus for the completely illogical absence of even the slightest mention of Natasha’s year long partner - a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent - in a movie that’s 50 % about her and 50 % about S.H.I.E.L.D.. Sorry, Marvel, not cool.
The rest is very, very enjoyable, though.
Basically, forget what you think to know about MCU. “It all goes”, as Steve likes to put it. The makers take a very courageous step here in tearing down the institution that has been guiding the MCU movies from The Incredible Hulk on. And when I say, it’s being torn apart, I’m completely serious. S.H.I.E.L.D. is erased from existence at the end of Cap2.
That being revealed, how they build that downfall is breathtakingly put together. Being far more than 2 hours long, the movie never gets boring for even a second. There’s more character development and emotional interaction than I could have ever hoped for and drama is finally allowed to play out for once.
The action sequences are there of course, and they’re various and interesting but they don’t take too much screen time. The focus is clearly on Steve and Natasha and the destruction of all they believe in and it leaves you just as shocked as them.
Coming back to the publicity point of view, I’ll say that the movie title could be misleading. Bucky in comparison is a small part of this story. Especially comic fans might not be completely satisfied. Natasha’s and his backstory for example is completely left out. He’s HYDRA, not Red Room made and while that works very well in the MCU - which isn’t and will never be 616 - I can see people have issues with these changes.
For me, they worked just fine. Bucky is only the face of the enemy along with Alexander Pierce. What the movie is really about is worlds falling apart and how so-called heroes deal with it.
On the acting part I’m sad to say that Evans needs to up his game. In comparison with Scarlett who finally gets a full playground for Natasha… with Stan who does great with the few but very emotional scenes he has… with Mackie who does just as brilliantly as in The Hurt Locker… and Sam Jackson who was born to be Nick Fury… Chris just kind of drowns. I do get that Cap is completely done with things through the whole movie, but in one or the other scene I’d have wished for a little more expression anyway.
Visually I’m not exactly an expert since I don’t really put focus on that but it definitely looked great to me. The night scenes are well enough lit, and thanks to the movie not being completely transferred at that point of time, I was lucky enough to not put up with 3D shit. Sometimes the cam is a little shaky but nothing that really disturbs the picture.
The movie has a very modern look with all the shiny nice gadgets we know from MCU and doesn’t have to do much to make suspension of disbelief happening.
Steve in spite of his enhanced body, is a very grounded superhero, there’s no magic or completely hilarious physics around. It’s a real feeling, enthralling action movie with a bit of super strength, speed and agility thrown in and will hopefully draw more people than ever to MCU, even if they’re not much into superhero stuff so far.
With the technical stuff ticked off, I’ll go all gushing about the real bummers now… You’ve been warned…
Holy. Fucking. Shit.
You know that things get emotional in that movie if you know about Bucky, of course, but frankly that wasn’t even what threw me off most. It’s S.H.I.E.L.D., the one institution we all believed in, being revealed as the big baddies. Well, not completely of course, but if someone like Sitwell turns out to be HYDRA, you know shit just blew up. Fuck, I knew something was wrong with him from pap pics, but I definitely didn’t expect that.
And it’s not just Sitwell (whom I definitely won’t miss, thanks, Bucky). Basically we have no idea whom of all the people we’ve learned to like is secretly working for HYDRA (except, obviously, for Nat, Steve, Nick and Maria being the good guys). That’s quite a punch in the guts, to say the least, and as I said, that really shocked me much more and made me more suffer, mostly for Natasha, than the whole Bucky story (though that one is very well done too).
Natasha. Poor sweet adorable badass Natasha.
Again, the beautiful thing about this movie is that we actually see things affect people for once. Steve is shocked too by that big revelation but it’s really Natasha who’s completely numb when suddenly all of S.H.I.E.L.D. is trying to kill them. When they search for shelter in Sam’s house and she confesses to Steve how lost she feels, I had to swallow a few times. Definitely one of the most powerful scenes in the movie, beautifully acted and written and a defining moment for her.
They both get their moments to somehow put themselves together again and then the next deep hit in the form of Bucky is already around the corner… [And I swear I heard all the fanguys in the press viewing squealing when he had his famous “Who the hell is…”-line.] That’s the moment when I was completely with Evans, these scenes were very well done on all sides.
By that time we learn that Nick has of course survived being shot by Bucky and looking back… I dunno, that’s a bit meh for me. I think I would have preferred to learn about that in a later movie at least. I’m so fucking done with Marvel’s resurrection policy. I’m just completely unable to take any death seriously, and actually I like to grieve for characters.
But well, it’s necessary for the story, so we move on, and that’s when the end fight kicks in. Holy Jesus, and again with Natasha. If you wonder why you haven’t seen any promo material of her in that battle, that’s for a good reason. That’s when I squealed. Full fucking masks, baby.
Seriously, Natasha badasses them all out in this movie. She’s alone with Pierce who’s the main antagonist at that point and she doesn’t even raise an eyebrow when she’s the one killing off S.H.I.E.L.D. and HYDRA. After we’ve seen how much it got to her that she “traded one cage for HYDRA”, as she put it (thanks, right in the feels, motherfuckers), she comes out on top again and does what has to be done. She’s blowing each and every secret S.H.I.E.L.D.’s ever had and basically exposing everyone working for it to public, enemy and trouble. That puts her in a fucking interesting position for everything to come, to say the least.
And fuck, she does it with a smile. (“Aaand it’s trending.”)
Honestly, they couldn’t have done a better job at finally giving Natasha a full fledged, interesting role for two hours. I’m not all that happy that we still learn nothing about her past after all of Feige’s big words, but if that’s what we’ll get from her, I’ll be satisfied with that for now.
More than. She’s fucking great. She’s funny, emotional, most capable, she’s weak, she’s strong, she’s flawed, she’s perfect. And with her birth year 1984 being confirmed in the movie, all done without any kind of enhancement. Hallelujah. That’s exactly how I want my Natasha. Naturally badass, capable and ruling the world. I want to marry her.
The Bucky arc closes with an open ending which promises more for future movies but again feels a little unsatisfying. I don’t think I have to tell anyone on this blog to stay until the last after credits (2 post credit scenes) and the last seconds of the movie belong to him. It’s a very intense scene, from the content of him starting to remember being very emotional, but with a very aggressive music that promises trouble for his torturers to come. Perfect ending.
Before that we see the glimpse of the twins for Avengers: Age Of Ultron, and while I don’t have anything against that, I find myself more intrigued by the fact that Baron Von Strucker has Loki’s scepter. Maybe because that - aside form a certain arrow necklace worn in 80 % of the movie - is the closest we get to a reminder that Clint’s still existent in this universe.
As for Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver… Comic fans will like it, I guess. It’s just a few seconds of him bouncing around and her doing telekinetics, no costume revealed, no dialog. Plain prison clothes, nothing much exposed here.
What struck me a little wrong is that Wanda is an incarnation of River Tam. Don’t get me wrong. I love River Tam. But she already exists.
I saw that movie before they revealed Joss Whedon directed that scene and I was really not the least bit surprised. I really really hope that’s not what she’ll be like in the movie. You can do better than repeat yourself, Joss. Really.
I’ll finish this off with a few quotes and invite you again to come to my inbox for all the details.
"Shall we play a game?"
- Natasha activating Zola’s artificial mind in the database that Steve and her find. And yes. That’s a movie quote. And we all know who made her watch Saw. (Also, Steve has seen it too and I’m putting my chips on Tony in his case)
"Public display of affection make people very uncomfortable." "Yes, they do!"
Basically, Steve sucks at being undercover and Natasha and him are the cutest BroTP ever.
"It’s hard to trust someone when you don’t know who they are." / "Besides I couldn’t know whom to trust."
Basically both Steve and Nick telling Natasha she’s not worth their trust, and ouch… Her face the second time broke me.
"Ouch… These really do sting."
I just want to take a moment to appreciate that Natasha doesn’t hesitate taking herself out with her own weapons if the occasion requires it. I mentioned she’s the biggest badass to ever have badassed?
"Captain Rogers…" "Neighbor…"
Steve is not too impressed with Fury having assigned Sharon undercover to protect him….
"Don’t look at me. I do what he does. Just slower."
Sam basically telling Fury to go fuck himself.
As usual, many more favorites in existence, but these were the first that came to mind, so they kind of stuck.
Again, thanks for listening.