OKLAHOMA CITY – April 4, 2014 was a significant day for two reasons. First, it marked my nine-year anniversary of working for Ideal Homes. Woo hoo. Second, it was the day that Marvel kicked off it’s bid to take over the film industry. While my work anniversary was thoroughly unspectacular, Marvel’s kick-off was quite the opposite. With over $100 million in its first four days, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is on pace to bring in quite a tidy sum for the comic book company. That isn’t all. While doing predictably well at the box office, CATWS is also gaining traction as a bona fide critical success, accruing some of the highest ratings of any Marvel movie since the initial Ironman.
There are many things that make CATWS work. First, the acting is top-shelf. Chris Evans continues to play Steve Rogers exceptionally. His clean-cut, all-American appearance is perfect for the squeaky clean hero. Scarlett Johansson and Sam Jackson are still good as Agent Romanov and Nick Fury. Sebastian Stan is just fine as the Winter Soldier (although the character doesn’t really get the development he needs and ends up being a wee bit pointless), and Anthony Mackie does a nice job with Falcon. I especially liked his early scenes as Rogers’ friend and confidant.
The big news in CATWS is Robert Redford. His turn as Alexander Pierce is like Michael Jordan with the Washington Wizards. While he isn’t at his very best, he still shows tremendous talent, and, as someone who was raised on old greats like The Sting, Three Days of the Condor and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, I found it simply great to see one of the best ply his craft one more time.
Another thing that stood out was the expansion of established characters. I loved that Captain America and Romanov have several quiet scenes together; these moments let the two show a little bit of the humanity behind their bravado. I especially enjoyed a running gag of Romanov trying to be a matchmaker for Steve, occasionally naming girls from the office as potential dates. It’s a fun, lighthearted connection.
I also liked parts devoted to Rogers’ connection to his past. He is shown visiting old friends and museums, trying to make sense of his new life, not totally ready to let go of his roots. I particularly liked a moment where Rogers’ neighbor tells him he left his music playing, and from inside the apartment we hear swing music blaring. I never thought about what kind of music the Captain would listen to, but it makes sense. There are other nice character moments, but for the sake of not spoiling the movie, I’ll leave those to the viewer to discover on his own.
A final thing I enjoyed about the film is the occasional use of practical effects. Marvel has raked in billions of dollars releasing CGI-laden movies, so it seems to make sense that directors Joe and Anthony Russo would simply follow the path. While there are certainly many computer-generated sets, there are also several moments in which practical effects are used with great results.
For example, the opening action sequence wasn’t tremendously doctored-up; most of the stuff on screen was actually happening. Also, there is an important section of the plot that takes place in a lost bunker. The stuff in the bunker is real, not computer-generated. It might seem like a small thing, but in a world where movies are as often made in the computer as on the set, it is fun to see some old-fashioned practical effects pop up.
There is doubtlessly more that might be said, but at the end of the day, this is just another enjoyable Marvel movie. If you liked Ironman, Thor, The Avengers, Captain America: The First Avenger, or any other of the slew of films Marvel’s given us, you’ll like Captain America: The Winter Soldier. It’s a highly polished film, and if you are looking for something fun to see with family or friends, it delivers. Go see it.
Grant Stevens was always more of a DC guy, but he enjoys Marvel’s movies anyway. When not making that distinction, he enjoys watching movies, reading and being the sole member of the Board of Directors of the Use Ironic Correctly Society. He also loves playing Halo and basketball, and he is super into apologetics. Oh, and he has recorded some music and whatnot.