Friday, April 4, 2014
Vernal Viewing: Captain America Double Feature
After a quick break, it was time for trailers. So many trailers! I think there were around 7, advertising summer fare like Amazing Spider-Man 2, Godzilla, Maleficent, Guardians of the Galaxy and more. Then it was time for The Winter Soldier, which has been garnering great word of mouth from early screenings and already opened to $75 million at the International Box Office. Picking up some time after The Avengers, Steve Rogers aka Captain America is working for S.H.I.E.L.D. in Washington, D.C. with his old pal Nick Fury (Not Laurence Fishburne's Samuel L. Jackson). When Cap objects to Fury's hidden agenda of preparing punishment before the crime, things start rolling and all of a sudden we're not sure who to trust. Throw in vicious mystery gunman The Winter Soldier, Cap's longtime comic book partner Sam Wilson aka The Falcon (Pain & Gain's Anthony Mackie), The Black Widow (ScarJo), UFC champ Georges St. Pierre as Batroc "zee leeper!", then a few other mystery villains and you've got yourself a modern action thriller steeped in comic book lore for the masses. Of course it's partially based on the recent run of Cap comics but I never got through those because the first issues I read were boring and the art was uninspiring. It also seemed to take some inspiration from the 80's mini-series, Nick Fury VS S.H.I.E.L.D. where the stalwart chief and secret agent finds himself wounded, hunted and not knowing who's really after him and which of his trusted colleagues is who they really say they are.
Perfect Captain America candidate from the 70's Robert Redford shows up as Fury's superior in a nod to his work in Three Days of the Condor. Harkening back to that era's political thrillers, the moral dilemma of government monitoring its citizens and how far is too far to protect the country, Winter Soldier's story is nothing groundbreaking but is superbly executed. I thought Thor: The Dark World was Marvel's most polished production to date with it's ornate set and costume design but Cap 2 definitely has the best action. The fist and feeticuffs are snappy and well choreographed. You get more intricate hand to hand combat with lots of flips, spins and visually interesting cues. Directors Joe and Anthony Russo do a terrific job of showing us Steve's augmented strength as he's kicking dudes across the room, running through walls and getting smacked around but still coming back for more. Car chases and shootouts are solidly staged and there's out of nowhere shocks and thrills throughout. I could go on but hey, go see the Damme movie already. I'm planning to revisit Captain America: The Winter Soldier this Sunday in regular 2D as I honestly didn't notice much in the post conversion to 3D so it's not worth the surcharge of discomfort. Apparently the flick did over $10 million in early screenings on Thursday night, putting it ahead of tent poles like Man of Steel, The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug, Thor 2 and recent YA franchise starter Divergent.
Vertical take off!