Sunday, April 20, 2014

You Can Believe in Captain America

     Captain America 2:  The Winter Soldier is a great superhero movie.  It has dazzling special effects, continuous action,  handsome heroes and gorgeous heroines.  But what really makes the movie is the acting, in my opinion.  The character of Captain America presented the directors and actors with interesting challenges.  Should he be right wing screwball, for example?  Or an overgrown Boy Scout, like Adam West's Batman?  No doubt the filmmakers considered all these possibilities, but what they wound up with far surpasses the more mundane stereotypes of past movies. 

     Chris Evans scores points for being a leading man, but he really is a great actor.  He makes the implausible character of Captain America totally believable.  Likewise, Scarlett Johansson (the Black Widow), Anthony Mackie (the Falcon) and Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury) succeed in bringing their characters to life.  Without these great actors, working with Directors Anthony and Joe Russo, this movie could have easily flopped.   
   In movies that were supposedly more down-to-earth, like Top Gun, I was put off by the stereotypic actions of the characters in the movie, who seemed to be to be totally unprofessional and two-dimensional.  Captain America, the Falcon, the Black Widow and Nick Fury may have been imbued with superhuman powers, but they act more like the real life military people that I have served with in my own modest military career.  They have had very human feelings and are thoughtful, moral and ethical people.   I give five stars for character development and acting.   Also, it should be mentioned that Robert Redford, Diana Rigg (yes, she of the TV Avengers) and others perform at a very high level.  Even Stan Lee got a great laugh in his cameo appearance (it may be that someone put him in suspended animation...can you imagine that he has been doing his thing since 1939??).  

Other than the super powers, I felt like Cap, the Widow and the Falcon acted like real people in the military that I have served with.  

Marvel is doing  better at portraying women as superheroes.  But the Black Widow still has to wiggle her hips while beating up bad guys.  

    Other parts of the movie were a little off.  This movie decided it was going to be like the X Files, so that it is hard to tell whether some of the characters are good guys or bad guys (Captain America to Falcon:  "If they shoot at you, they're bad!").  After a while the plot gets so contorted that it is hard for the audience to care whether they are good or bad, and even harder to say what the difference was. 

   Another problem I had was that the bad guys (Hydra) were lousy shots, every bit as bad as the Empire in Star Wars I, or Thrush in the Man from Uncle.  Put it this way, they couldn't hit water by falling out of a boat.  As a military guy, it pisses me off when the shoot-to-kill ratio falls below one out of a million.  I mean, really! What good are these high tech weapons if they never hit anything?  And be careful about having guys run down airplanes, catch them and then punch them out of the sky, okay?  Airplanes, tanks and stuff have to work and be effective or it is just not believable.  

    Another issue I had was with the camerawork.  I watched the 1-D version, but I noticed that they had a lot of camera jitter during the action scenes.  Maybe that helps to make the movie 3D, but for the 1D version it just gave me a headache.   

      Finally, I need to have somebody explain to me how it is that the military (or whomever) could leave important facilities abandoned with no one watching them and yet with all kinds of important stuff there waiting to be activated. That didn't make any sense, and was totally unnecessary to the plot.  I think they just threw that in because they saw it a Wolverine movie or something.  

     One of the best characteristics of Marvel movies is that the ordinary people have some kind of role to play.  It's not just the superhero duking it out with a supervillain.   In Marvel Comics, like the movies, ordinary people have to help the superheroes at some point.        

      Maybe that's the part that I like best about this movie. The average person in the movie knows Captain America's story, and for the most part, they are not jaded or cynical about him.  They believe in him, and most of all they are able to trust in him.   

     Perhaps it is that kind of trust, which allowed America to defeat the Nazis in World War II.   

     By the end of the movie, I felt like I believed in Captain America too.  Definitely worth seeing, and my 11 year old liked it although some of the fighting scenes were very intense. 

Captain America and the Falcon were determined to bring down the forces of Hydra. But who were they actually fighting?    Stay tuned....

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