“After the cataclysmic events in New York with The Avengers, Marvel’s “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” finds Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), aka Captain America, living quietly in Washington, D.C. and trying to adjust to the modern world. But when a S.H.I.E.L.D. colleague comes under attack, Steve becomes embroiled in a web of intrugue that threatens to put the world at risk. Joining forces with Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), aka Black Widow, Captain America struggles to expose the ever-widening conspiracy while fighting off assailants sent to silence him at every turn. When the full scope of the villainous plot is revealed, Captain America and the Black Widow enlist the help of a new ally, the Falcon (Anthony Mackie). However, they soon find themselves up against an unexpected and formidable enemy – the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan).”
I'm a huge Captain America fan. I've watched Captain America: The First Avenger more times than I can count, I have a Cap poster on my bedroom wall, and a Cap mug that I keep on my desk which holds a Lego mini-figure of Steve, along with his motorcycle and shield. Captain America: The Winter Soldier has been on my to-watch list ever since I joined the fandom (I watched TFA just a couple of days after the first TWS trailer came out) and I was finally able to get my hands on it last Tuesday when it came out on DVD.
And it was so good.
I was expecting to love it, but seeing the whole thing up close, from start to finish was even more amazing than I'd thought. There were so many twists and turns, intense fight/chase scenes, plenty of humour to keep things from being too dark, and all those little heartbreaking touches. (Peggy, of course, and then pretty much anything to do with the Winter Soldier himself) At the moment, I'm really coming up blank for all the right ways to talk about this film (maybe because I'm feeling sick right now) so if this review is a little disjointed...I'm sorry, but that's just how it turned out. But I think that once I get to reviewing specific things, instead of rambling all over the place, it'll get better.
Steve Rogers/Captain America has always been, and will always be, my favorite superhero. Sure, Iron Man is flashier, Thor is more powerful, Batman is dark and mysterious, and I'll admit I have a soft spot for Hawkeye, but Steve is my favorite. While he has a lot of new and improved fighting techniques in The Winter Soldier, inside he's still the same person. The same guy who threw himself on the grenade, who charged into enemy territory to rescue his best friend, who crashed the plane he was in to save the lives of thousands of people. You can see these same traits manifested several times throughout the film, especially in his interactions with Peggy, Natasha, and Bucky. He's the same Cap that I loved in The First Avenger, and I couldn't be happier about that.
Bucky. The Winter Soldier. So. Many. Feels. On my second viewing of TWS, I looked at my brother and said "This movie has such amazing acting" (I forget at exactly what point I said it) and he agreed. There's no greater evidence of this then Sebastian Stan's portrayal of the Winter Soldier/Bucky. Marvel's given us a sympathetic villain to rival Loki (personally, I think he's a million times better than Loki) and everyone is obsessed. I could write reams about Bucky and his backstory and the brainwashing scene (Ugh. That scene was honestly one of the worst movie scenes I've ever seen) and pretty much everything about the character, but I want to keep this review down to as manageable a length as possible, so I'll be moving on shortly. (however, I'll probably be writing a lot about all those things on this blog in the nearish future) Just let me say that he only had about thirty-three words in the entire movie. And he still crushed everyone's heart and eclipsed Loki, at least partially. Now that's what I call great acting.
The Winter Soldier was the first Marvel movie where I saw Natasha/Black Widow in action and I was very impressed. From the few clips I'd seen of Natasha in both The Avengers and Iron Man 3, I don't think I was expecting much more from her than some cool action sequences, but there was so much more. Sure, she had about three big fight scenes, but there was a lot of characterization and depth to her as well. As all Marvel fans know, Black Widow has a dark, mysterious past and TWS, while not revealing any specific details, definitely showed that she has a lot of secrets to hide. The way she worked with Steve through the whole film was great to see, and I think that he helped her soften a little and become more than just an agent-assassin. It was also interesting to see her relationship with Nick Fury. I didn't understood just how deeply she felt about him until watching TWS, and it's definitely deepened both her character and his in my mind.
Speaking of Nick Fury: I liked him much more than I thought I would. He isn't my favorite character, but again, there was great characterization. Now, I don't want to spend too much time on the characters, but there's still so many left to talk about. Sam/Falcon, for one. The fighting trio that he, Steve, and Natasha made was great and I liked him as a character in his own right. He can understand, to some extent, what Steve's going through with Bucky because he lost his best friend to a war as well. He runs a support group, he's funny, kind...and those wings of his are seriously cool. A couple other more minor characters that I liked were Sharon/Agent 13 and Maria Hill. I wouldn't go so far as to say that I ship Sharon and Steve (she's Peggy's niece, which could get a little weird) but I really liked her character. Maria Hill was one Marvel character I was the most interested in seeing, and she was great, even if we didn't get to see much of her.
[Oh, and just so you know. Pierce is the worst. Evil, manipulative, cold. My siblings and I all agree that he's the worst Marvel villain ever.]
One of my friends got to see The Winter Soldier long before I did, and she warned me about how intense the film was. It was crazily intense and heart pounding. Lemurian Star, Nick Fury being chased through the streets, the Winter Soldier tearing out the steering wheel, the council room, locking the helicarriers...from start to finish, TWS was gripping and just very, very exciting. I read somewhere that it almost received an R for violence and after watching the whole thing, I can believe it. There's not a lot of blood and gore, but still. One reason for the intensity of the fight scenes is, of course, the music. When I first listened to the soundtrack, separate from the movie, I was really surprised. It was cold, harsh, and metallic, with not a lot of personality. I was used to the full, rich, warm soundtrack of The First Avenger, but after hearing the soundtrack paired with all the action scenes, I think it's perfect. Definitely adds a lot to the mood.
If you asked me to chose between The First Avenger and The Winter Soldier, I honestly don't know which film I would pick. Both of them are superhero epics, in their own way, and while not many people - including Marvel fans - would agree with me, I still think TFA is amazing. Both films have such different atmospheres to them, that it's almost unfair to compare the two. But TWS is a great film, one of the best I've seen this year, and I'm so glad that Captain America wasn't changed just because he's in the modern world now.
Let me know your thoughts on this movie! I'm always glad to discuss things like this with fellow fans.