Sunday, March 29, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Review: ‘Captain America’ zippy but hollow

By
From page B2 | April 04, 2014 |

NEW YORK — For the latest Marvel release, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” most fan boys might prefer a Consumer Reports-style product review.

New character introductions: Smooth. Action sequences: Excellent if sometimes lacking finesse. Viewer satisfaction: Likely high. Box-office prospects: Bankable. Teasers for future Marvel installments: Yes, two.

With slick design and plushy interiors, “The Winter Soldier” is an excellent product. But is it a good movie? Are the two indistinguishable at this point?

Like the recent “Thor: The Dark World,” ”Winter Soldier” is a sequel to a pre-“Avengers” franchise starter. The earlier “Captain America: First Avenger” was a mostly clever period film, set in the ‘4’0s and awash with a charming WWII thriller nostalgia.

“Winter Soldier” brings Steve Rogers – the weakling recruit made a brawny Greatest Generation icon, played by Chris Evans – up to present day for a Washington, D.C., conspiracy thriller. Fittingly, Marvel has attracted the default hero of such films, Robert Redford. He’s a major get for the franchise, especially since (unlike in last year’s “All is Lost”) he’s actually talking now.

While Rogers runs laps around the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool and jots notes on the pop culture he missed while frozen for 70 years, there’s trouble brewing at S.H.I.E.L.D. Its head, Nick Fury (Samuel Jackson), believes something is amiss with the agency’s latest project: a trio of “helicarriers” that can kill evildoers from the sky even before the evil is done.

It’s in this way that Marvel films use a complicated current-events issue – NSA-like spying – to feign contemporary relevance. It’s the appearance of having something to say. Captain America, a stand-in for a more innocent, noble America, wonders if the helicarriers are like “holding a gun to everyone on Earth and calling it protection.”

But that’s about the extent of such talk in “Winter Soldier”: a political thriller without the politics. (Be warned: some small spoilers follow.)

Fury, having doubted the project, finds himself a hunted man. Captain America is left to investigate with only a few trustworthy friends: Scarlett Johansson’s scarlet-haired former KGB agent Natasha Romanoff, a.k.a. the Black Widow (an “Avengers” toss-in, added like a dash of paprika) and Anthony Mackie’s veteran Sam Wilson (a welcome newbie).

The best thing “Winter Soldier” has going for it is its cast, a uniformly likable bunch, particularly the winning Mackie, whose character dons mechanical wings to become the Falcon. And then there’s Redford, who plays Alexander Pierce, a S.H.I.E.L.D. director.

Redford, naturally, classes up the joint. Historically, in films like “Three Days on the Condor” and “All the President’s Men,” he’s been the regular guy fighting government conspiracy – which makes his duplicitous turn in “Winter Soldier” exciting. Like Jackson, he lends a gravitas to the film that it perhaps doesn’t quite deserve.

Directing brothers Anthony Russo and Joe Russo (“You, Me and Dupree”) and screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (“Thor: The Dark World”) put perhaps a bit more into character development than these films often do. (The biggest misstep is with the handling of the title character, an assassin played by Sebastian Stan, whose true identity is mysterious.)

The brightly lit D.C. environs, too, give the film something of a sense of the real world. Yet when Marvin Gaye’s “Trouble Man” plays – pop-culture homework for Rogers – it’s like a window into another, wholly separate universe. One with soul.

It’s getting difficult to tell the Marvel movies apart. The fight scenes on a departing aircraft blur together. The reversals of friend and foe refract like an infinity mirror. The characters are spread across so many movies that you’d need a detective’s cork board to keep it straight.

So while “The Winter Soldier” succeeds as finely engineered merchandise built to be crowd-pleasing entertainment, for moviegoers and shareholder alike, it has a shelf life that won’t last much past its running time.

“Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” a Walt Disney release, is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for “intense sequences of violence, gunplay and action throughout.” Running time: 136 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Vanden High library project nears completion

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
PG&E helps replace stolen equipment

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A3

Justin-Siena names new principal

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A3

 
Vacaville police make arrest after pursuit

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Red Cross volunteers help assemble first aid kits

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Vacaville bridal, quinceanera show a hit

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A5

 
Event benefits child who attends Cambridge School

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Free paper shredding option returns to Fairfield

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
Fairfield police log: March 27, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Suisun City police log: March 27, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
.

US / World

.

Opinion

Thanks for making prom dreams come true

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
Improve Allan Witt Park; how about rest of Fairfield?

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

.

Living

.

Entertainment

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BEST-SELLERS

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Second Julie Andrews memoir expected in 2017

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Chrissie Hynde memoir coming in September

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
.

Sports

Wisconsin heads to Final Four after 85-78 win over Arizona

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Burns scores winner in SO to lift Sharks past Flyers, 3-2

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Warriors beat Bucks 108-95, clinch top seed in West

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Gordon, Earnhardt among the winners and fans of Martinsville

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Prince Bishop wins Dubai World Cup, California Chrome 2nd

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Serena Williams easily wins opening match at Miami Open

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Power leads Penske sweep in qualifying for IndyCar opener

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Revolution win first of season, beating Earthquakes 2-1

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Jenest pitches SCC baseball team to shutout of Contra Costa

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

AP sources: Texas fires coach Barnes after 17 years

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Kazmir, Quintana both strong; A’s beat White Sox 10-4

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Zunino homers twice, but Giants rally to edge Mariners 9-8

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Jimmy Walker leads hometown Texas Open

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

.

Business

A glance at women in leadership roles in business worldwide

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
For business, more women in charge means bigger profits

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

US drillers scrambling to thwart OPEC threat

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
Test trial to use computer servers to heat homes

By The Associated Press | From Page: B14

.

Obituaries

Robert Roberts

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Janice Jewel Thompson

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Helen Kalis

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Carol A. Vose

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics