Captain America: The Winter Soldier [3D]

First off a gripe: I cannot believe that they are not showing this in IMAX in Singapore! Unbelievable! Shame on you Shaw!!!

A worthy sequel and entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) with ramifications throughout the existing cinema and TV franchises. Directors Anthony and Joe Russo have given us a political thriller that was tense, suspenseful and has broad appeal to both fans and the casual moviegoer. However, the film does not stand up very well both narratively and logically upon closer scrutiny and that, ultimately, was distracting to the overall enjoyment of this decidedly not-very-super superhero story (the "Honest Trailers" guys would have a field day!).

The Russos started the movie with the right tone: slightly serious with a touch of comedy and a hint of sentimentality. But that was also a problem. None of these aspects were fully realised. Partially this could be the fault of writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. The fish-out-of-the-waters jokes worked best as was the brief interlude into Steven Rogers and Bucky Barnes friendship. However, the episonage and political intrigue, which was the main backbone of the story, was not as tightly written. I can accept the "science" behind the science-fiction but the stakes were never really built up. The idea behind it was there and it was clear, but there was not any thing/event to expound that terror. Their action scenes were well choreographed, but their choice to seldom showcase the actors' faces decreased credibility. Through it all something was just missing, that little spark or gel to push it into awesomeness.

Markus and McFeely did a great job with the character of Steve Rogers. His characterisation was natural and evident, and there was evolvution but yet the core of what makes Captain America the symbol of heroism is not lost. Unfortunately not the same can be said of the secondary characters. Only Black Widow had some sort of character development (let's hope the rumours to her getting a spin-off are true). The others: Nick Fury, Maria Hill, Falcon and Alexander Pierce were kinda one dimensional. Although there were some throwaway lines to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (*SPOILER* Stephen Strange!!!!!!) but the lack of acknowledgement to Agent Coulson and the series was disappointing! 

Aside: *SPOILERS for ABC's Marvel's Agents of SHIELD* OMG! Could Melinda May be Hydra?!? (Although I think she's working for Fury) Is The Clairvoyant Zola or someone who knows the algorithm????

Another thing, and this could be a producer's fault, but many things happened off-screen. Is that to trim the show time (136 mins)? Or are they just keep stuffs for the DVD/Blu-Ray? That was very annoying!

I cannot imagine who else would be Steve Rogers after Chris Evans retires this role. Although physically he would easily replaced, but like Robert Downey Jr, he has come to represent the patriotic, earnest and honest Captain. Despite his pretty-boy face, he still has that honest-to-goodness, laddy-of-the-land look in his eyes. I guess Joss Whedon did not write a shirtless scene for him here like he did for Chris Hemsworth in Thor: The Dark World, since Evans kept his shirt on all the time. Throughout the movie, we have no doubt that he is the good guy and will do the right thing, but this makes us root for him to save the day although the morally ambiguous Fury and Black Window may make for more interesting characters. 

Speaking of which, Scarlett Johansson was quite good here. Most of the time we are left wondering about her and whether she has any other agenda. I liked that. And Johansson sold that very well. However, her character designer needs to be changed. Her costuming and hair were distracting, and this was not in a good way. Seriously!? What happened to the Black Widow from Iron Man 2 and The Avengers?

Robert Redford was a coup! A central villain who was believable. He convincingly portrayed this guy who had this radical idea of world domination. Yet, he never once reached into the depth of absurdity.

Samuel L. Jackson was rather restrained here compared to his other previous cinematic personas and that is good for us. Although, if the writers/directors/producers were braved enough they would have stuck to their original storyline instead of the expected twist at the end of the Second Act. 

Anthony Mackie looks like he's going to be Cap's new sidekick in the third instalment. Hopefully Stark Enterprise can give him some new wings. Although his on-screen alter-hero debut was a bit silly and lacked the necessary dramatics.

Sebastian Stan clearly has been working out, since he's the one with shirtless scene instead of Evans. His character needs more explaining, especially to non-fans. Hence from that point of view, he was poorly written. But therein lies the problem with the MCU: how to appease both fans and non-fans? For a movie that is subtitled to be about him, we learn surprisingly little about him.

Emily VanCamp and Cobie Smulders both make appearances, and I suspect both may appear in Marvel's Agents of SHIELD with the former likely to come back for the sequel too. Poor local boy Chin Han was nothing more than a glorified cameo.

The soundtrack by Henry Jackman was generic adventure. Why wouldn't Marvel spring for an awesome composer to score their music? Like what Hans Zimmer did for Man of Steel

Stay tune for that totally awesome mid-credits sequence, which like the first instalment links us to The Avengers (and it was directed by Whedon!). But that's not all, stay till the post-credits, for a hint of the third instalment.

3D was absolutely not necessary, and I think IMAX would have been awesome!


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