Saturday, April 12, 2014

In Theatres: Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

Captain America (Chris Evans) and the Black Widow (Scarlett Johannson) return in "Captain America: The Winter Soldier", which is more about espionage than heroics when you get right down to it.

In fact, when Cap was granted his own series at Marvel in the 60's, they made it more about spies than common wackjob criminal masterminds, so this really is nothing new. However, the context of "Winter Soldier" has its roots in a few other films, even if Marvel Studios head honcho Kevin (Rhymes with Siege) Feige wouldn't admit to it when asked.

It starts when Cap and the Widow lead a SHIELD team on board a ship to rescue hostages from pirates led by Jacques Batroc (MMA star Georges St. Pierre), whom comics fans know as a misguided freedom fighter who gave Cap many battles back in the day. Among the hostages is Jasper Sitwell, who is another familiar name to old school readers. As it turns out, predictably enough, Sitwell doesn't do gratitude very well, if you know what I mean and I think you do.

Back stateside, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) is shot and seemingly killed by the titular villain (Sebastian Stan), whose costume looked like a reject from "Mortal Kombat". I am not kidding. It looked that out of place, and never mind the cybernetic arm. This after Fury manages to evade some rogue cops & SWAT units. His superior officer, one Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford) and Widow ask Steve Rogers why Fury made it into his apartment. Rogers isn't even sure. Next thing ya know, Rogers is on the run, taking the Widow with him.

Before he had undertaken his mission, Rogers had befriended Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), a vet now working at the VA. Wilson later factors into things, but this origin of the Falcon leaves a little something to be desired. Like, retractable wings and a jet pack?!?


Any comics fan worth his salt knows, and so does anyone that watches Avengers Assemble or the Marvel Super Hero Squad Show, that Falcon had a standard costume in the comics. First, it was green, and then they switched to red & white, which made more sense. He even had a falcon sidekick. Well, they did take the tights away from Hawkeye, and......! All I see is a waste of special effects money, and that won't be the last of that coming from Marvel this year.

Long story short, Hydra, SHIELD's traditional comics nemesis, rears its multiple ugly heads, but there are no masked soldiers. Instead, they're working covertly, right under the nose of the government. Then again, they've got their hooks in the government, too, particularly a Congressman we've seen before (Garry Shandling, who looks like he should be doing Nutri-Systems ads next).

Perhaps the most amusing part of the movie is Widow actually alternately flirting with Rogers and trying to play matchmaker for him. There's even a scene where she ends up falling on his lap while they're in a car being chased by Hydra. Fortunately, Falcon's at the wheel. Rogers did some flirting of his own early on, meeting his next door neighbor, who turns out to be more than she seems. Yep, that would be Agent 13 from SHIELD (Emily Van Camp, Revenge), whom we'll see again in the next film, and, yes, that's in the planning stages.

If you've been following Agents of SHIELD right along, you now know how dependent that series has become in relation to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Even though the Whedon family and Jeph "Ear" Loeb and his tag team partner-in-stupidity, Joe Quesada, have zero to do with this movie (Thank God!), you can pretty much see why Agents has been lagging behind CW's Arrow. Way behind. The most recent episode follows events in this movie,  but if you haven't been watching it lately---and ye scribe has fallen way behind--you may need some Maalox after watching it On Demand. Just sayin'.

The vibe I get from this recalls Tom Cruise's 1st "Mission: Impossible" movie (think of Redford in Jon Voight's position), and other spy movies, such as one of Redford's classics, "Three Days of the Condor". Seen one, didn't see the other. So didn't dig what I did see back then. This is actually a little higher up the scale, but could've stood to have had better writers.......!

Here's a trailer, courtesy of Marvel's YouTube channel:

Speaking of trailers.......

"Amazing Spider-Man 2" (May 2): Andrew Garfield dons the webs again, this time dealing with not only the expected Green Goblin (son of the original), but also Electro (Jamie Foxx) and the Rhino (Paul Giamatti, in another waste of special effects money). Emma Stone & Sally Field also return.

"X-Men: Days of Future Past" (May 23): 3 weeks later, the X-Men return. Two Marvel movies in the same month?! Yep. Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellan, & Halle Berry return, with Jennifer Lawrence ("Hunger Games") as Mystique. One more reason for the little boys.......!

"Godzilla" (May): 16 years ago, Sony rebooted the Japanese icon, forgot one important detail. Warner Bros. & Legendary Pictures make up for that. Looks like fun.

"Earth To Echo" (July): Remember "ET: The Extra-Terrestrial"? Similar story, but with an AI (artificial intelligence) from another world or something.

"A Haunted House 2" (Friday): Delayed from last month, likely to avoid "Noah". Marlon Wayans, Cedric the Entertainer, & Gabriel Iglesias send up horror movies.

"Guardians of the Galaxy" (August 1): More from Marvel. Zoe Saldana in green paint. WWE's Dave Bautista as Drax. Bradley Cooper as the voice of Rocket Raccoon. Can your heart stand it?

"Expendables 3" (August): Sylvester Stallone has recruited Antonio Banderas, Kellan Lutz, Harrison Ford, Wesley Snipes, and MMA hottie Ronda Rousey for this next mission. Mel Gibson plays a bad guy for a change. Arnold Schwarzenegger signs on to team with Sly again, but Ford basically replaces Bruce Willis.

"Lucy" (August): Scarlett Johannson returns, blonde this time, playing a woman who's gained genius level intellect. Morgan Freeman co-stars.

"Maleficient" (May 23): Remember "Sleeping Beauty"? This Disney live-action film fills in some of the blanks about the motivations of Maleficient (Angelina Jolie).

Rating: B+.

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