Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Last week, Captain America returned to theaters when “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” hit theatres. It’s the movie that critics are calling a “comic-born, action extravaganza” (Jules Brenner, Cinema Signals) and “The first Marvel movie since the original Iron Man able to stand on its own.” (Adam Nayman, Globe and Mail). In my own opinion, the movie stands as a great action/thriller. Marked by great CGI, action scenes that put some martial arts movies to shame, and villains that rock the American Hero’s world.
Now, at risk of giving out spoilers, in this latest installment of the Marvel Universe, Captain America
and Black Widow have to deal with the murder of Nick Fury at the hands of a mysterious assassin called “The Winter Soldier”, a man with a meta arm, and enough strength and stamina to keep up with the Captain himself. As they investigate Fury’s murder, they uncover a plot that will test not only them, but the entirety of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Now, while most of the recent Marvel movies have had a fair plot, focusing more on watching the characters duke it out than telling a story, the best part of “The Winter Soldier” is actually its plot. It leaves normal science fiction/action conventions behind, choosing instead to take the route of a mystery/thriller instead. The characters, especially Captain America, are forced to make extremely difficult moral choices as friends turn to enemies around them. The question “How much are you willing to give up for peace?” isn’t only posed to the heroes, but to the audience itself. It’s especially relevant question in an age marked by paranoia that spawned and revealed programs like PRISM.
Now, despite all the praise I can heap on this movie, it does have its fair share of flaws. While
the CGI is extremely well done, the movie uses it almost as a crutch, making everything from agents and soldiers to the ship Captain America is seen jumping out of in the trailer, out of pixels, as opposed to physical matter. While it’s understandable that some sets in the movie are far too big to be made, and many of the elements exist only in science fiction, the excessive use of CGI takes away from an otherwise vibrant world. In addition, while the fight scenes are impressive, with even Captain America pulling out incredible martial arts moves, they suffer in a similar manner. For example, within the first 30 minutes, Captain America is up against a minor villain who barely has a name. While normally that would be no problem for the hero, especially since he’s seen not a minute earlier taking down henchmen with one or two blows, he not only stands up to the Captain, but almost dominates a part of the fight, giving the impression that the Captain isn’t the only one with superpowers on the boat. He isn’t seen again for the rest of the movie. While it makes for a great fight scene, it takes away the “super” aspect that normally accompanies a hero.
Overall, I highly recommend seeing the movie at least once. The fight scenes are great, if a little overdone, the plot hits home and we finally get a deeper look into the so far bland Captain America’s personality. Of course, the introduction of, quite possibly, the single most realistic villain, make it a must see.