Since its release on April 4th, I’ve gone to see Captain America: The Winter Soldier twice. Why would I pay to go see a movie in theaters twice these days? You might think it was because it was good, and you wouldn’t be wrong, but it’s really because I wanted to see it with certain people that had scheduling conflicts which meant that the first viewing was in 2D. I try to go see the fancy new 3D versions of a film, since I can’t get that experience at home, and I’m eternally curious about how filmmakers choose to use the extra dimension. So, I went to go see it again in 3D with the biggest fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe I know. It was a good call.
First, let’s talk about the difference a dimension makes. The early fight scenes of the movie had breakneck pacing that were hard to follow in 2D and downright jarring in 3D. Yet, the problem seems to disappear later in the film. I posit that it may have been an issue with my eyes having to adjust to the speed instead of a genuine flaw in the film. I’m happy to report that there were zero attempts to use the 3D gimmick of things popping out the of the screen at you. Instead the 3D was used to add depth of field. This mostly went unnoticed seamlessly letting the background go back for forever. However, there were at least two shots where the extra dimension elevated the scene to striking while the 2D versions were bland. There may have been more, but I was too caught up in the action to notice. All in all, I would say that the 3D version is the way the film was meant to be seen, but there were no parts of the film that did not function in 2D.
Alright, now that we’ve talked about the dimensional issue, let’s discuss the film itself. In general, I liked the film quite a bit. The action was lots of fun, I found the dialogue to be fairly snappy, and the reverberations of Steve Rogers being a man out of time were solid.
Despite its April release, I feel Captain America: The Winter Soldier qualifies as a summer blockbuster, it surely fulfils the explosion quota. The action throughout the film is frankly bonkers. It’s also remarkably brutal in its violence. Cap and his cohorts flat out kill motherfuckers all throughout the film. Personally, I really liked it. I like the idea of Captain America as fundamentally a soldier, willing to kill for the cause he’s fighting for. I won’t say it’s not for kids, because that’s the parents’ call. Brutality aside,the fights are well choreographed, and there aren’t to many instances of ridiculousness from Cap.
One of the things the MCU has had going for it is great characterization and solid dialogue. The repartee between characters in Winter Soldier is consistently fun, be it exchanges between Cap and Sam Wilson, Black Widow and everybody, or Nick Fury and his car. Honestly, it feels a little Whedonesque.
There is a clear theme of Steve Rogers being lost. The opening of the film shows him filling in a notebook of things to catch up on. Played for laughs at the time, it sets up the disconnect that he feels throughout the rest of the film. This ranges from him visiting Peggy Carter, his love interest from The First Avenger, to him struggling with the idea of a SHIELD police state. The loss is best underscored by a scene where Rogers walks through a Smithsonian exhibit about himself and the Howling Commandos. Tangentially, the film also made up for a flaw in its predecessor. The First Avenger never really drove home the connection Bucky and Rogers had. In Winter Soldier, they used some very good flashbacks, conversations, and that museum display to drive home the depth of their relationship. Without that improvement, the entire idea behind the Winter Soldier would have fallen apart.
That wraps up the major points. Robert Redford and Anthony Mackie were excellent additions to the cast. I loved a certain reference that may hint at future film plans. I really like the way the film looped through Agents of SHIELD. I didn’t feel like the film presented much in the way of surprises plot wise, but a comic book film has to get up pretty early to catch me out. Other than that, I didn’t find a whole lot of issues to bring up. Captain America: The Winter Soldier may very well be my new favorite film in the MCU.