RATING: ★★ (2/4)
To be completely forthright, I am probably not the most qualified to review Captain America: The Winter Soldier due to the fact that I never saw the first film, Captain America: The First Avenger. And while we are putting everything on the table, I might as well say that I probably would not have seen this film if it wasn’t for a couple friends who needed to satisfy their Marvel itch. As a result, I am obviously unable to convey how this film differs from the first, as well as whether the movie advances the overall story of Captain America in a meaningful way.
However, from most critical accounts, as well as its record-breaking performance at the box office, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is definitely superior to its predecessor, which I simply found too corny to justify spending 10 bucks to see. Having said that, I still found this movie to be a bit cliché, especially as the film sought to invoke a substantial amount of unnecessary humor (at some points Captain America became Captain Obvious). The plot itself was rather blah, as the film pitted Captain America, along with his comrades Black Widow, Nick Fury, and Falcon against a rogue intelligence agency (S.H.I.E.L.D) led by a conniving politician (played by Robert Redford). Yes, the action was undoubtedly entertaining and provided a non-stop, intense adrenaline rush; so in this respect the film is definitely worth seeing.
I guess my restrained admiration for this film sheds light on a much larger issue within cinematic circles, which is one’s preference for Marvel or DC, a debate so volatile that it is likely to catalyze an Occupy Hollywood movement among comic nerds. While I have not seen enough Marvel or DC films to call myself a comic aficionado, it does appear that Marvel (which in addition to Captain America, includes Spider-Man, Iron Man, etc.) possesses a more playful, lighthearted tone. On the other hand, DC, which is headlined by characters including Batman and Superman, has a much more serious vibe and delves into much deeper, darker themes.
What I found to be very off-putting was how the film blatantly tried to push a partisan political agenda. Taking placing in the context of the 21st century, the film went out of its way to make obvious connections to a modern-day political debate between security and civil liberties. Allusions to Edward Snowden, WikiLeaks, drone strikes and the NSA spying scandal were made throughout the movie, with Captain America unequivocally pushing a leftist agenda (this may seem counterintuitive considering his patriotic persona, but I kid you not). As a result, the film unfortunately comes across as shallow, naïve and simply devoid of the realities of 21st century threats.
Regardless of all of these shortcomings, I still found the film to be entertaining simply in terms of its action value. But I guess at the end of the day I am just not a Marvel person. Moreover, I am too much of a foreign policy hawk to stomach Captain America’s laughable cry for civil liberties. Politically conservative individuals like myself will take solace in the Dark Knight trilogy, in which Batman undertakes a multitude of actions that would surely send liberals crying to the World Court. I try not to get too political in my movie reviews; however, this film committed the cinematic atrocity of seeking to invoke politics where it is completely unnecessary and out of place.
Check out the trailer here!