I walked into Captain America: The Winter Soldier with high hopes and, contrary to what you might think, a great deal of optimism. I knew this film wouldn’t be an ambitious genre-defining masterpiece. However, I did expect substance, creativity, and something otherwise unique.
Immediately, we’re introduced to Chris Evans’ pecs—er—Captain America, our lovable Nazi-fighting action hero from the forties. The opening scene is the same characteristically cheesy Marvel humor that’s been shoved down our throats since Thor, and after some initial dialogue, we’re immediately thrust into a long-winded and unnecessary subplot that involves Captain America picking off enemies left and right with just his homegrown American brute strength and trademark FDIC insured indestructible shield.
Now, I’m not against completely nonsensical and unrealistic fight sequences, but the extent to which the bad guys have to pummel the good guys with firepower in order to make so much as a dent in the window is, quite frankly, unfair. Captain America’s shield is about the size of a large dinner plate. It covers a good 40% of his body, yet nobody during the entire course of the movie thinks to aim at anything but the shield. It’s almost as if the shield is the real target and Captain America is simply the shield’s glorified private chauffeur. It all makes sense now! The movie isn’t about Captain America, it’s about his shield–timeless in nature, and pure in construction: the perfect hero.
The movie continued with some more shooting, exploding, and dying. This was followed by even more shooting, exploding, and dying. We find out towards the end of the film, as if you hadn’t already guessed, that Pierce, the director of S.H.I.E.L.D, was actually the diabolical mastermind of HYDRA, a cult of megalomaniac pseudo-Nazis that worship Space Voldemort and aspire to, you guessed it, take over the world–cue evil laughter here. The only way for Captain America to stop them is to make an balloon-deflating cliche-ridden speech that even Bill Pullman from Independence Day would cringe upon hearing. Then, he is tasked with the equivalent of trying to find a needle in a haystack while simultaneously performing the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, in the sky, blindfolded. It sounds ridiculous because it is.
The cherry on top had to be Captain America collapsing in agony after being struck by one tiny, little, insignificant bullet. Apparently, that’s enough to knock him out of commission despite his extraordinary ability to dodge heat-seeking missiles, hide behind your grandmother’s china, and destroy a flying death machine with a big metal Frisbee. In the end, the good guys win, the bad guys lose, a large quantity of expensive equipment is destroyed by the world’s most patriotic disc golfer, and those five dollars spent to see a matinée at the local theater have been lost to the dead-eyed girl at the ticket booth outside.
Don’t get me wrong, the film was entertaining and quenched my thirst for Michael Bay style explosions. However, it didn’t bring anything new to the table; I’d seen the same predictable plot in hundreds of other similar movies. The bottom line is, if you enjoyed Man of Steel or Olympus Has Fallen, and just want to see an action-packed, CGI-driven superhero flick, this film is for you. As for those like me who enjoy a good plot, solid acting, and a captivating storyline, it’ll probably do you some good to wait until they show this one free of charge on your next cross-country flight. Score: 4/10
Daniel Krasnove/Web Editor