peteg's blog - noise - movies - 2014 05 25 CaptainAmerica WinterSoldier

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

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Slim pickings on this Memorial Day long weekend, with X-Men scaring off all competitors. I can't say I was particularly keen to see this one after the first outing. Still, I couldn't say no to some air conditioning and vegetation for $5.75 (almost cheaper than freedom, what with all this inflation) at Logan, 2:30pm session, in merely 2D. I had a light and expensive lunch at the nearby farmers' market: "back bacon" (= eye of the bacon rasher) and a banger on a bun for $10.

This is all about the details, or observation humour as Tyler would say if he was actual. The structure was a tedious retread of the previous one; the variation is in the response to the surveillance state of twenty-first century America / Earth, and the conflicted loyalties that engenders, filtered through a suitable flying McGuffin. The action sequences are pure spaghetti camerawork, to the point where I now just wait for the camera to stop shuddering, or alternately close my eyes and wait for the dialogue to resume. Robert Redford has Paul Newman's pasta sauce in his fridge. Samuel L. Jackson has his famed lines from Pulp Fiction etched on his tombstone. Captain America's notebook is full of cultural detritus. Frank Grillo is solid but nowhere as good as he was in Warrior. Emily VanCamp looked scarily familiar, as if she was mining Jodie Foster's oeuvre; I guess I just saw too many ads for Revenge at some point in my life. Both she and Scarlett can't button anything past the sternum.

Abstractly Captain America poses two central problems: his powers and intellect are so limited that most action sequences must feature him doing hand-to-hand stuff, and the shield. Where does he stick it when he's not using it? What happens if it doesn't boomerang? etc. etc. Marvel does not solve these well here.

I got thinking that The Wind Rises (which I also saw at Logan) could only get away with a non-origins-of-a-superhero story of creation by balancing it with romance, disability and war, i.e., all the tricks in the book. Here, as there, creation is mostly to do with the technology the military uses to enforce conformism / security. Maybe I should be watching Silicon Valley.

Dana Stevens has it about right, which is reassuring as she got it wrong on the first one. This is the better of the two. And to completely spoil it, it's certainly got a sequel.