Ben Oliver

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Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Cut off one head two more shall take its place.
18 October 2014

It can’t be easy coming up with ideas for comic book movies. Comics have the luxury of time to flesh out their characters and ideas, while films have to get it done within two hours. You’re also duty bound to interpret things that happened in the books (even if they won’t work on screen) or face the wrath of the fans. That’s why so many of the pictures produced in this onslaught of superhero action fuckery are so bland… entertaining but forgettable.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier sadly is no different. It’s a tale of conspiracy, backstabbing and skeletons in closets. A classic recipe for entertainment, yet somehow is fails to entertain.

Of course it’s a brilliantly made film, and the action pushes the envelope of what’s possible in cinema today. They all do. The problem is, that’s literally all it’s good for; a cheap thrill. All those resources and all that talent seem unable to produce a film you’d actually want to watch twice.

There are some issues specific to the film though. Captain America just isn’t that interesting as a person, neither is his now-sidekick the Black Widow. She has a back story that they are holding back on, and he is feeling a range of emotions that only people who have been cryopreserved can relate to. There’s a lot of potential left untapped here. Captain America was pretty good in the 40s. In modern times he’s not that exciting, but it feels like perhaps he could be if they tried.

Chris Evans seems uncomfortable in the role; it’s a boring character that needs him to spice it up a bit, but he either doesn’t want to or isn’t allowed to. Johansson is more confident on screen but gets nothing to do other than kick-ass and look shit hot. Samuel L Jackson is on auto-pilot, which is fine. Robert Redford is in this, and I like him, but I’m not actually sure he knows what’s going on, he’s just wearing a nice suit, reading the lines out and taking a pay cheque.

The plot is of the ‘we have to take out all three targets at the same time to save the world’ variety. It’s tired and predictable (surprise surprise, they really struggle on the last one),

It’s not all bad. Evans and Johansson are incredibly attractive and the cave man in me enjoyed that. That part of me also liked all the explodey things. The jokes are pretty funny, and the script deals with the light-hearted stuff really well.

If like myself you have watched loads and loads of these Marvel films then you’ll want to see this, just so you don’t miss out on critical soap-opera plot points. If however you’re just up for a good time, I’d look elsewhere. You could do worse but this really is nothing special.

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