'Captain America' an uneasy rider
"Captain America: The Winter Soldier" is a return to form for the action genre.
The Marvel Comics superhero sequel wisely eschews an overdependence on computer-generated imagery. Instead, the film concentrates on character development, dialogue scenes between the main characters and several impressive live-action scenes.
"Captain America" bristles with the kinetic energy of some of the best of the action-movie genre, including "The Terminator" (1984), "Total Recall" (1990) and "Die Hard" (1988).
Chris Evans, as a super-buff Steve Rogers, aka Captain America no computer generated special effects needed for his biceps and pecs is the new Millennium's Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The convoluted plot won't be confusing to fan boys and girls steeped in the Marvel Comics universe. Some moviegoers may be a bit baffled trying to follow the arcane plot involving HYDRA and S.H.I.E.L.D. Then again, those familiar with Marvel superheroes will enjoy being in-the-know.
For this moviegoer, one drawback is the glossing over of how Captain America looks extremely youthful for being a 95-year-old United States World War II veteran.
The back story provides a richness to Captain America's biography ("Captain America Comics No. 1" dates to 1941). In the original Marvel Comics comic book story, Captain America was awakened from suspended animation in 1964. That still puts Captain America in the senior citizen age range.
That screenplay quibble aside, "Captain America" delivers the action in at least three main set pieces: a downtown Washington, D.C., chase scene, a high-rise glass elevator fight, and a freeway chase sequence. There's a plethora of martial arts scenes. And there's that shield, which Captain America flings like a deadly giant Frisbee.
Brothers Joe and Anthony Russo (TV's "Community" "You, Me And Dupree," 2006), who will be back to co-direct "Captain America 3," from a screenplay by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely ("Captain America: The First Avenger," 2011; "Thor: The Dark World," 2013; "The Chronicles of Narnia" screenplays, 2010, 2008, 2005). The concept and story is by Ed Brubaker ("Angel of Death," 2009). It's based on the Marvel Comics character created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby.
While there's computer-generated enhancement for the action scenes, it is not apparent, unlike many action and science-fiction films which often seem to involve the blowing up of and-or destruction of a city. The computer imagery seems to mostly drive the final conflagration in "Captain America," where the protagonists square off amid futuristic military aircraft.
The plot line about Winter Soldier, a Russian agent, resonates eerily with the contemporary Ukrainian and Russian geo-political crisis. "Captain America" has one foot in fantasy and one foot in reality.
"Captain America" is a cut above many recent superhero action-adventure-sci-fi films. The actors have actual dialogue, with not only humorous quips, but revelatory character details.
Evans resembles a young Richard Gere. Evans has great screen presence, is able to hold the moment and generates emotion even in stillness.
Scarlett Johansson is terrific as Natasha Romanoff-Black Widow, a role as action-oriented as, say, Catwoman. Johansson has that trademark raspy voice, big eyes (seen in several close-ups) and is compelling no matter what she's doing or saying. Here's hoping the Marvel producers listen to her and give Black Widow her own spinoff movie.
The surprise casting of Robert Redford as Alexander Pierce pays off. Redford plays it straight, underplaying the role convincingly.
Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury is again a delight. You want to see him on screen and in this role.
Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes-Winter Soldier creates a sympathetic, albeit, really vicious, villain.
In supporting roles, Anthony Mackie as Captain America's sidekick, Sam Wilson, aka Falcon, is excellent; Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill, a S.H.I.E.L.D. operative, is compelling, and Emily VanCamp as Kate-Agent 13 is memorable.
"Captain America: The Winter Soldier," which set an April box office record in its opening weekend, started the summer blockbuster movie season a month early even though winter has seemed as though it just won't quit.
This is a popcorn movie in the best sense: sheer entertainment and a lot of it.
"Captain America: The Winter Soldier," MPAA Rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned. Some Material May Be Inappropriate For Children Under 13.) for intense sequences of violence, gunplay and action throughout; Genre: Action, Adventure, Science Fiction; Run Time: 2 hrs., 16 min.; Distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.
Credit Readers Anonymous: Stanley Martin Lieber, aka Stan Lee, a Marvel Comics superhero in his own "write" as a Marvel Comics superheroes' co-creator, has a cameo as a National Air and Space Museum guard. True to Marvel movies style, there are two scenes during the closing credits: one near the beginning and one at the very end. And we're told: Captain America returns in "Avengers: Age of Ultron" (2015, directed by Joss Whedon).
Box Office, April 18: "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" continued ruling like a summer blockbuster movie for a third straight week with an Easter holiday weekend tally of $26.6 million, and $201.5 million, after three weeks, keeping "Rio 2" continuing at No. 2, with $22.5 million; $75.3 million, two weeks, and "Heaven Is For Real" opening at No. 3, $21.5 million, weekend, $28.5 million since its Ash Wednesday April 23 opening; "Transcendence," opening at No. 4, with $11.1 million; and "A Haunted House 2," opening at No. 5, with $9.1 million;
6. "Draft Day," $5.9 million, $19.5 million, two weeks; 7. "Divergent," $5.7 million, $133.9 million, five weeks; 8. "Oculus," $5.2 million, $21.2 million, two weeks; 9. "Noah," $5 million, $93.2 million, four weeks; 10. "God's Not Dead," $4.8 million, $48.3 million, five weeks
Unreel, April 25:
"The Other Woman," PG-13: Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann and Kate Upton turn the tables on a three-timing man in the romantic comedy.
"The Quiet Ones," PG-13: Olivia Cooke and Jared Harris star in the horror film about an experiment gone wrong.
"Brick Mansions," PG-13: Paul Walker stars in one of his last roles as an undercover Detroit police officer in the crime-drama.
Read Paul Willistein's movie reviews at the Lehigh Valley Press web site, thelehighvalley-press.com; the Times-News web site, tnonline. com; and hear them on "Lehigh Valley Art Salon," 6 - 6:30 p.m. Mondays, WDIY 88.1 FM, and wdiy.org, where they're archived. Email Paul Willistein: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow Paul Willistein on Twitter and friend Paul Willistein on facebook.
Three Popcorn Boxes out of Five Popcorn Boxes