Tuesday, April 8, 2014

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER is This Generation's Empire Strikes Back -- Likes and Dislikes Review

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is fantastic. Most fans have had their chance to see the movie seeing as how the sequel has broke April box office opening weekend records. While some websites stick to a traditional review format, I will not and I will focus on my likes and dislikes of the movie. So without further delay, let me get started. (Obviously there will be some spoilers coming so if you haven't seen it yet.)

What I Liked: Brutal Action

One thing that felt flat in Captain America: The First Avenger was a lot of the hand-to-hand combat action. Red Skull was supposed to be Cap's equal but they never really seemed evenly matched despite both being super soldier experiments. But Winter Soldier was definitely a match for Cap all the way to the end of the film.

Whether Cap was using his shield to run through walls or hitting Batroc which caused him to fly through the air, the brutal strength of Cap was perfected in the sequel and at some moments it even seemed like he could stand toe-to-toe against the Hulk. And that's exactly how Cap's strength and toughness should be displayed.

What I Liked: The Pacing of the Film

Not once during this film did I feel like a scene or segment was dragging too long and I wanted it to end. More often in today's films this happens but not with this one. From the start of the film to the end of it, there was great pacing and a mix of action, suspense and drama trying to figure out what was about to happen next.

What I Liked Loved: The Empire Strikes Back-Like Ending

Being a child of the late 70s and early 80s, I remember the effect that the ending of Star Wars Episode V: Empire Strikes Back had to the movie industry. Its cliffhanger ending was not only a ballsy approach by George Lucas to end a film but it created instant, insatiable desire for the next movie to come out immediately.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier does the same and is this generation's version of an Empire Strikes Back ending. Yes, I know that's a huge comparison and many will send hate my way for saying it but the Cap sequel is a cliffhanger that makes you want more right now. Empire was a game changer for the movie industry and this movie is a great homage to that Star Wars ending by mirroring the concept of "the good guys being on the run to plan their next move" in its own ending.

The Winter Soldier saves Steve Rogers, SHIELD is a disaster, Nick Fury has successfully faked his death and is off-the-grid while both Cap and Falcon set out to go looking for the Winter Soldier in the last scene of the film. It makes sense why Marvel Studios wanted the Russo brothers back to direct a third Cap film to complete the story and why Marvel has officially confirmed a release date for the threequel on May 6, 2016.

While Captain America 3 will go head-to-head against Warner Bros. and DC's Man of Steel sequel—as of the publishing of this review—Cap's next movie will finish the story that began in the second film. That alone will create a huge demand to see it and be a solid competitor against Batman and Superman.

What I Liked: All the Easter Eggs

The shot of the Avengers Tower and the name drops of Stephen Strange (Dr. Strange) and a man located in Cairo, Egypt—assumed to be referencing Moon Knight—each one was a nerdgasm for Marvel fans because it officially teases that these two guys are definitely in the same Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Another great moment was bringing back actor Gary Shandling to play Senator Stern. He is an undercover Hydra agent and this plays great off of his Iron Man 2 appearance and is now confirmed that Hydra is the one who really wanted Tony Stark's Iron Man suit(s).

The final Easter Eggs I liked was the pause when Winter Soldier held Cap's shield (foreshadowing) and that Brock Rumlow was not killed at the end even though he was injured and burnt to a crisp. He'll certainly be back as the comics villain Crossbones in the threequel seeking his revenge on Captain America. (If you don't read the comics, here's a hint: Google search what Crossbones does to Captain America.)

What I Didn't Like: More Winter Soldier Please

The only thing I really didn't like about this film was that there wasn't enough Winter Soldier action. It is assumed he'll have more screen time in the third film but I wanted more of the assassin in this movie. It's a small complaint, I know, but I'm also a sucker for a good villain and Winter Soldier was a good villain who I wanted more of.

Overall, it's tough to find any major issues with Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Bravo to Marvel Studios and the Russo brothers for making a Cap movie that is worthy of the character and created an instant anticipation and excitement for the next film in the franchise.

9 out of 10