Truthfully, I’m not one to watch many movies, which is a large reason as to why I’ve not drafted/posted any movie reviews on this blog. In the shift from adolescence to adulthood, I found myself growing frustrated with the hours of running times I’d invest into watching a movie, only to have the return fail to meet expectations. My best friend/roomie happens to love movies and has long since served as my unofficial recommendation engine. This past Friday, we had no evening plans and decided to go catch a movie now that the summer blockbuster season is starting to ramp up. We settled on catching a showing of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, expecting gratuitous action sequences & special effects with a plot that would at the very least be merely “acceptable”. What I got was a story so poorly developed that it kept putting me to sleep. Every time I woke up, I’d watch for a couple minutes to try to get caught up with the narrative, only to end up annoyed by the movie and losing interest to the point of passing out once again.
As I mentioned, my expectations were pretty properly aligned. I was going to watch a big-budget action flick that was focused on the modern-day take on a comic superhero created in the 1940’s as World War II propaganda. The character is, through name, appearance, and even personal backstory, the sensationalized embodiment of the “traditional” American spirit. So, I sat down thinking I was going to get 2+ hours worth of explosions, feats, superpower, and fight/action sequences with amazing special effects. What I got was a depressing representation of the current real-life political climate.
From the outset, good old Cap’n ’Murrica is lost. After banding together with all the other big powers on the good guy side and saving the world in The Avengers, he’s back to trying to get caught up with the modern world and find what he wants to do with his life. Watching handsome Mr. Super-capable going through an existential crisis didn’t really evoke much sympathy from me as a real normal person who’s been through the same thing on a much deeper level, but I digress. So while we begins to work on sorting out his personal affairs, he stays busy by putting his powers to good use for the government. A few segments in, the captain finds out that SHIELD has been developing a crazy military defense system, elevating the situation from unrestricted global monitoring of people to having an invisible gun pointed at everyone. And our hero, the representation of the classic American spirit protests, but he’s unable to do anything about it as a single person. It comes to light that SHIELD has been compromised and is corrupted, and that’s when I started falling asleep.
Over few clips I caught throughout the remainder of the movie, I basically watched a super cut of all the old plot devices I’d seen in the big action films of the 90’s: the best friend who thought to have died in the war still being alive, the former best friend being alive because he was saved and turned by the Russians, the “big reveal” where every secondary character turns out to be a supporting spy/soldier/hero. I realize that I can judge the movie too harshly on this front since Captain America has been around for a considerable amount of time, and being faithful to the comic requires retreading those established story arcs. Yet, at the same time, the whole point of these movies is to bring them up to date to contemporary story telling standards; with all the liberty Hollywood exercises in adapting stories from other mediums — think video game movies here — it felt like very little was done to reinvent the story and make it fresh and remarkable.
Ultimately, it was a disappointing waste of time and money.