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Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) Review

Updated on May 21, 2014

If you think the superhero film has been played to death already, you’re wrong. The limits of action and effects have been pushed farther than we thought possible, and seem to keep extending in that direction. When a giant like Disney buys a giant like Marvel and then buys an even bigger giant like Lucasfilm…well, you better hang on to your hat, because it’s going to keep coming at us faster and harder. And that means that, however big and bold and awesome this film is, it’s just another wall in the architecture.

So know a few things going in: 1) This film is not trying to do anything too groundbreaking genre-wise; 2)It presupposes a certain level of knowledge of not only the other Captain America film, but other films (and now tv) in the Marvel universe; 3) It’s accountable to AN ASSLOAD of rich people who hate risk and love high box-office numbers, so it will be familiar and cookie-cutter. If this all sounds a little cynical, let me just say that I thought it was a total blast.

Yes, in spite of the myriad non-sequiturs, the corny one-liners, and the plot threads that seemed to just be given up on, I was enthralled for the majority of the 2.5 hour runtime. This is not because I knew anything about the original Winter Soldier storyline from the comics. What really captured me was the intensity of the action. As soon as Nick Fury’s first action scene hit, I was thrown for a total loop, salivating to see what would happen next. If there’s one thing Marvel/Disney is good at, it’s making you cheer at sheer, adrenaline-inducing, good vs. evil action. At making you marvel, in other words.

So it really doesn’t matter what I say about the good-for-a-Marvel-film performances, or the good-for-a-Marvel-film score, or the good-for-a-Marvel film cinematography. The stellar sound effects were mixed at Skywalker Ranch, the visual effects done by countless studios, including Lucasfilm; it’s a massive undertaking, and the action is massive. There are shades of wanting to explore the security of our information, of our inability to trust the government, of conspiracy theory, but these are all played out in broad, gimmicky strokes without any desire for actual investigation into these topics. This is about Avengers 2: Age of Ultron, about Agents of Shield, about every Marvel film past and future. Whatever surprises you feel the film holds expire after a single viewing along with your $15+. And, ya know, if you’re looking for incredible action and brand continuity, it’s worth it. But it surely will not stand the test of time.

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