Saturday, April 26, 2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier Melts Box Office

Marvel Studios Strikes Gold With The Star Spangled Avenger In His Second Landmark Film

WARNING: Spoilers ‘aplenty!


ARTH VADER (AV): Leaping higher than Batroc right out of the pages of Marvel comic’s biggest legends, this film is as surprisingly original as it is rooted in Marvel cannon. Since Marvel Studios–and it’s films–are essentially Marvel Comics, these films are both bold and solid gold. Bringing down the Hydra was Cap’s job long before there was a S.H.I.E.L.D., so it’s no wonder Captain Rogers has to go back to work against a Hydra. But he can’t do it alone so enlists the help of Marvel spy buster standout Black Widow, Maria Hill, Nick Fury, Sharon Carter and of course, his… AHEM!… wingman, the Falcon. This movie is the live-action embodiment of decades worth of Marvel storytelling, would you agree Pontificator? 

THE PONTIFICATOR (TP): Hail Hydra Vader! It’s the second installment of Captain America and it very much lines up with the first film as well as the rest of the larger Marvel movie universe. The Marvel films may not retell exactly any particular story from the books (although the plot of this film does borrow from the Winter Soldier’s story in Captain America's comic and HYDRA being S.H.I.E.L.D. all along in comics), but they are consistent with the expanding canvas they are painting on the silver screen, as well as on the television (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.). 


AV: The gang’s all here, folks! I will let my esteemed partner rattle-off the big names in this film but I will discuss, instead here, the overall characterizations and near-brilliant cinematography and direction work. First, this cast is built for success from it’s DNA, Robert “All Is NOT Lost” Redford is a seamlessly perfect addition to the film’s mighty ensemble cast and screenplay. Marvel even went as far as to cast geek deity, Stan “The Man” Lee in yet another richly entertaining role. Acclaimed brothers and directors extraordinare, Anthony and Joe Russo, deliver such a meticulous, rich screenplay, there are times the viewer loses sight of the fact that this is a superhero movie. 

TP: Does anything really need to be said about the cast? Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, and Scarlett Johansson have already proven themselves as Captain America, Nick Fury, and Black Widow. The story here is Robert Redford’s diabolical portrayal of Alexander Pierce, Sebastian Stan’s dedication to making the Winter Soldier a force to be reckoned with, and Anthony Mackie’s awesome characterization of the Falcon. The only thing better than a can-do-no-wrong cast is top notch direction that makes the film a thrill ride that you never want to stop. Yeah… it was like that. 


AV: The seamlessly blended visual effects presentation in this film leaves the audience dumbfounded. The onscreen visuals are so well done, you simply take for granted that three flying aircraft carriers (or ‘heli-carriers’) are slugging to out over a giant fictional government facility called the ‘Triskillion’, high above the skies of Washington D.C. What I love about this movie, is how much physical choreography is blended with state-of the-art special effects. From the fist fights with Batroc and Hydra to the leaping, flipping and jumping of the final fights with the Winter Soldier. Watching the Falcon weave between the flying characters was worth the price of the 3D alone. And the breathtaking scenes of the three heli-carriers shooting themselves apart in the air is a sight I will never forget. Pontificator, what did you think?

TP: In a word Vader; spectacular. The CGI was great (as usual) and woven perfectly into the action. Of course I saw this film in IMAX 3D (is there any other way to go to the movies now?) and it was worth every penny. I’ve heard the filmmakers opted for live-action over CGI whenever possible, and the effort really shows as the unbelievable looks absolutely real as it jumps off the screen and into your lap. This film was a perfect example of taking all the tricks of sfx so far and melding them with live action to make a true blockbuster.

AV: Many critics and fans have called this movie out as the best of the nine (so far) Marvel Studios to date. Being the fan I am, I can’t choose, because I love them all differently for different reasons. I believe what we have seen (and in many ways are still witnessing), is with every Marvel film, the formula keeps getting better. As the films deal with real life issues like PTSD for veterans, Sam Wilson (the Falcon), moderates a discussion group for Veterans of the Middle-Eastern wars. Steve (Cap), as hunky as he is, has a hard time finding a date and even struggles with etching out his place in our ever-evolving technology–saturated world, something we can all relate to as well. This makes the characters less super and far more relatable–and human.  

TP: *SPOILER ALERT* Taking a deeper look has significant meaning for this film as there are a ton of easter eggs in it. I won’t go through them all as a quick dive into Google will bring you to numerous sites talking about them, but I will mention a few that I noticed that really aren’t being talked about. In Agent Sitwell’s explanation of what gets a person on Hydra’s hit list, he mentions SAT scores, to which Cap and Widow share a look in reference to the 2004 film “The Perfect Score,” about a bunch of kids that steal answers to SAT’s. Evans and Johansson are those kids. In the third act, just before the helicarriers were destroyed, there was a Hydra commander that looked like Grand Moff Tarkin from “Star Wars” that delivered the line (“You may fire when ready”) also delivered in the third act of the 1978 blockbuster…just before the Death Star was destroyed. Lastly is the scene when Widow asks Cap when he got so good at stealing cars, which was a reference to the Captain America film from 1990 wherein he steals cars multiple times. It seems to me that the filmmakers had a lot of fun making this movie, which is a good thing since it was a lot of fun to watch. 


AV: The news is that the brothers Russo are already hard at work on the next Captain America installment. Personally, I could do with about ten more films of this quality and magnitude. If they can make even a fraction of the cylinders fire that they did in this one, it will be a hit. As the formula for what constitutes a great Marvel movie evolves and gets more sophisticated, then moving the Captain America narrative forward is going to be a sight to behold. Bring ‘em on—and “make mine Marvel!”

TP: I’m very much looking forward to Captain America 3 and can’t even imagine where they are going to go in that film. That said, with Sebastian Stan signing a nine film deal, I won’t be at all surprised to see him in Cap’s uniform sometime in the future, although Evans will still be committed to two more movies after Avengers 2.

ARTH VADER rates Captain America:The Winter Soldier: Once again, Marvel Studios has outdone itself, which after nine (9) feature films, says quite a bit. Even those completely unfamiliar with the finer details have had such a good time as many are calling it ‘better than the Avengers.’ While my jury is still out on that thought, this is the first big blockbuster of the summer (well spring anyway) and a must-see for just about any cinema lover. That’s why, when Captain America throws his mighty shield, no one can oppose the incredible box office yield. (That was for all the deep Cap fans) I wouldn’t dream of not giving this film a perfect 10 busted blocks and say to Marvel, ‘keep ‘em coming’

THE PONTIFICATOR rates Captain America: The Winter Soldier: Truly a blockbuster with an epic presentation, this film is among one of the greats. It has it all, action, intrigue, comedy, drama…easily targeting nine (9) busted blocks while hailing Hydra!

Captain America: The Winter Soldier: 9.5 / 10 Busted Blocks

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