Sunday, 6 April 2014

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Will I EVER like a comic book movie? Well, if they're directed by the likes of Sam Raimi, Zack Snyder and Robert Rodriguez, the answer's YES!

This is MY Captain America Golden Age and no movie has yet come close.

Scarlett (UGH!!!) Johansson
in a Captain America movie is
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) *1/2
Dirs. Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Redford, Samuel L. Jackson,
Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie

Review By Greg Klymkiw

I do have a bias when it comes to comic book movies and it's simple: I want them to capture the spirit of the comics I loved when I first discovered them. I am, however, not curmudgeonly-narrow-enough to dismiss said pictures if they're directed by real directors with something resembling panache. God knows I love all three Sam Raimi Spiderman movies (even part 3) because they not only capture the essence of Marvel during MY primetime enjoyment of the comics during the 60s and early 70s, but they're all superbly directed. Zack Snyder's Man of Steel rocked my world because it not only captured the DC items I loved in the 60s, but came closest to the first brilliant season of the George Reeves TV series which was dark, nasty and noir-like. Oh yeah, and Snyder can direct rings round most filmmakers. His work on graphic novels like 300 as well as that of Rodriguez's top-dips into such adaptations like Sin City kick major, royal ass from stylistic standpoints.

All the others pretty much stink (though Jon Favreau's first Iron Man was watchable, Kenneth Branagh's Thor was decently written and even well directed except for the action scenes and Louis Leterrier's The Incredible Hulk had tons of visual panache, decent tone, though a disappointing script). The big reason the contemporary comic book movies drive me nuts is that they usually offend my bias, but are also miserably directed.

Captain America: The First Avenger fell into a disappointing, but not terribly offensive middle ground for me. Director Joe Johnston is an agreeable enough hack. His action scenes were relatively comprehensible (though a tad dull) and thankfully weren't of the herky-jerky variety (used by losers who mask their directorial incompetence with way too many poorly composed closeups and ludicrous lightning cuts). Unfortunately, aside from the great Hugo Weaving as The Red Skull, the movie seemed woefully all over the place in terms of tone and, of course, the screenplay left a lot to be desired.

And so, that brings us to the equally humdrum Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Tonally, it offends my bias, but at least the action scenes have some decent fight choreography that Anthony and Joe Russo manage to shoot in focus with a few nicely composed fixed-camera positions and minimal rapid-fire cuts. Like the first instalment, it features a terrific villain, though here it's not the super-villain, but the slimy political weasel played really well by Robert Redford.

Alas, the rest of the movie stinks.

At least the Russos keep the camera still enough to display the fight
choreography. Not that it matters much, since the movie is Dullsville.

The I-could-care-less plot involves Cappy Am (Chris Evans) embroiled in some tiresome hijinx involving Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) being assassinated by Bucky-Barnes-incarnation The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) and slimy Redford being behind a plot to take down SHIELD and the Cap needing to team up with the tediously uninteresting Black Widow (Scarlett "UGH - get off the screen, already" Johansson) and the ridiculous Falcon (Anthony Mackie), a character who, in the 70s Marvel Comics started to turn me off to Captain America. This all results in a bunch of decently directed action scenes with virtually no dramatic investment for us since the plot is as perfunctory as they get, lacking any of the truly haunting tone the pre-Falcon Marvel comics had.

Call me a sourball. I don't care. I'm getting sick of these pictures. Given how dreadfully directed The Avengers, Iron Man III, Thor: The Dark World and the completely useless Amazing Spiderman reboots have been (and don't get me started on the Christopher "One Idea" Nolan Dark Knight garbage), I'm feeling like life is getting too short to watch anymore of these unless real directors are attached to them.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is in wide release from Walt Disney Pictures.