Captain America: The Winter Soldier was released on blu-ray last Tuesday, so I decided to see if my thoughts about the film had changed since the theatrical release five months ago. I loved the film at the time, but does it still hold up?
The answer is yes.
… And no.
One thing I noticed this time around is Henry Jackman’s powerful score. I guess I was too caught up in the action and plot to pay attention to it in the theatre. There are those who say that if you are listening to the score then there is something at fault with the movie. The truth is, for the most part I subconsciously ignore the score the first time around for whatever reason, unless it is conspicuous in the mix.
The fight scenes, especially those between Captain America and the Winter Soldier, are the best in any comic book film. They are even better than those in a lot of action movies. On a somewhat smaller screen it was easier to see the intricate detail that went into the fight choreography, in particular Sebastian Stan’s knifework; he moves very swiftly with great fliudity. It’s worth the price of the blu-ray for his scenes alone.
As with a lot of films that have twists and surprises, you often feel like you should give it a second viewing in order to catch what you missed–except in this case. In The Winter Soldier the twists and surprises come as a result of events that occured in some of the previous eight films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
This leads me to what The Winter Soldier is really about and it’s not James Buchannon Barnes–surprise, surprise, surprise. It seems that S.H.I.E.L.D. has been under the influence of Hydra for decades. Not only that, but it goes straight to the top–Alexander Pierce. Pierce is played by Robert Redford in a reversal of the sorts of roles he played in any number of films in the 1970s. It goes to show that if you live long enough you finally get to play the villain. It was inspired casting, if I say so myself.
Not only is Pierce a part of Hydra, so are a few other characters we have met along the way. If you haven’t seen Iron Man 2 you would have no clue as to why Garry Shandling was in The Winter Soldier, or what part his character, Senator Stern, has in all this. As for Agent Jasper Sitwell, who was amongst those captured on the ship by Georges Batroc, he may seem like just another person working for S.H.I.E.L.D., but he has been in a few other films and “one shots” that often appear on the blu-ray editions. There is not one on this blu-ray. *sad face*
The one thing that I had the most problem with this time around is the “Nick Fury is dead” subplot. I didn’t buy it the first time around; if they aren’t going to kill Phil Coulson, they sure as hell aren’t going to kill Fury. Maybe I’m making too big of a deal out of it.
In my recent post about The Amazing Spider-Man 2 I discussed the meaningless idea of “best of” lists and how it applies to that particular film. The same goes for Captain America: The Winter Soldier. At the time of release, many people and critics went into hyperbolic warp speed in order to proclaim The Winter Soldier the best superhero/comic book movie of all time. Seven weeks later X-Men: Days of Future Past was the best. Ten weeks after that Guardians of the Galaxy was the new benchmark.
The truth is: Only time will tell. 2014 has been the best year for comic book films up to this point, subjectively speaking. An arguement could be made that 2008 is the most important year for comic book movies, for that was the year that gave us both Iron Man, and The Dark Knight. If those two films had failed, especially Iron Man, we wouldn’t be having this debate.