wogma rating: Add to 'must watch' list (?)
The First Avenger is back, and this time he's saving the world from an enemy that lies within. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is good fun while it lasts, though it disappoints a bit as well, primarily in how it doesn't do justice to the intriguing villain of the title. Still, a good cast and some exciting moments make the film engaging enough.Read more
It's hard to not have fun watching a film like Captain America: The Winter Soldier on a gigantic IMAX screen, which virtually transports you into the middle of the action. With a plot that attempts to be relevant - what with the current scenario of worldwide electronic espionage - and a neat little cast that has a few welcome additions to the previous film, it keeps you entertained for the most.
Yet, as you ponder over it, despite the clear attempts to stand out, this sequel is really no different from the slew of superhero reboots and sequels that are a regular summer feature, now. Same old, same old.
In Chris Evans' first turn as the First Avenger, we were served a relatively silent film - a film that set up the character well, and had a genuine attempt at a World War II period feel to it; at least as much as a big superhero film could muster. The sequel is set in the current day, and is bigger, grander and louder.
Captain America, now settling in to the quantum leap the world has taken since he last remembered it, is sucked in to a conspiracy within S.H.I.E.L.D. itself, one that has global security ramifications. Meanwhile, he is also up against a mysterious villain, known only as the Winter Soldier, but who is tied intricately with Captain America's past.
With a staple dose of humour, tons of action, and with a lot of talk along the way, the film pretends to be a bit of a heavyweight in terms of its plot, but comes across as a tad too superficial, eventually. While the twists are predictable, the action has been shot far better than the last film, with an unsteady look that obviously gives it an edgier feel. The 3D, however, doesn't particularly add much to the film.
With Scarlett Johansson's Natasha (or Black Widow) and Marvel's latest big screen debutante Falcon (played quite well by Anthony Mackie) for company this time round, there's a whole lot of forgettable fun to be had while it lasts. Another addition to the cast, which lends the film so much more credibility than it eventually commands, is Robert Redford who plays the enigmatic Alexander Pierce.
Samuel L. Jackson - who seems to be having quite some fun in his appearances as Nick Fury, Director, S.H.I.E.L.D. - gets a longish role as well, and one of the best moments of the film is the briefest of hat tips to his Jules Winnfield from Pulp Fiction. But that's probably just the Tarantino fanboy in me speaking.
Directors Anthony and Joe Russo, known for far smaller films, usually lighter in vein, take on their biggest film to date, and they do a decent job with it. Though it lacks any truly jaw-dropping set pieces, the frames and scale are grand enough, while some are actually quite imaginative in execution; one car chase sequence is exhilarating, and the film has the extended action climax we've come to expect.
The biggest problem with the film, for me, was the lack of justice to the eponymous villain, the Winter Soldier. His appearances are sporadic, his presence is never fully explained, and his history with Captain America is never given enough meat. There simply is no reason why his name is included in the title of the film, when the plot of the film has virtually nothing to do with him. He is relegated to a side attraction, at best.
Expectedly, the end credits scene - directed by Joss Whedon - teases a little, with the introduction of couple of Marvel villains who are poised to add some spice in the future. In fact, it's time we admit that these standalone Avengers films are fast becoming just like teasing nuggets for Avengers: Age of Ultron. That, really, is the big prize we're waiting for, in lieu of the time we give the films along the way.
This review is by guest reviewer Pradeep Menon. Pradeep is a filmmaker and a dreamer. He loves books, rain, winters, tea and his parents. Cinema, however, is the only truth he believes in. He breathes and bleeds film, mostly in hues of saffron, white, green and blue. You can watch his short films at www.youtube.com/cyberpradeep.
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