Captain America: The Winter Soldier: REVIEW

Some stuff blows up, and Captain America saves the day again. Whatever. 

I’ll just say it. The “Marvel Cinematic Universe” is one of the biggest reasons so many movies suck today.

Because of their unexpected success in the last decade or so (in a medium that used to be afraid of superhero stories), studios are focused more than ever on including enough trailer-worthy moments in films than actually crafting a well-told story. Now everyone’s concerned about creating their own ever-continuing sagas of multi-linked films (which stretch plot lines paper thin and connect only loosely enough so that you’ll shell out $13 to see the next one).

Marvel’s obviously not the only factor in this transition, but the fact that it just became the highest-grossing film franchise of all time surely isn’t stopping Hollywood from continuing to copy its success. Marvel might be the biggest one to blame for the increasing amount of lazily-put-together, computer-effects-driven, car-chase-and-explosion-laden superhero and action movies bombarding the theaters every other week. We keep telling them that’s what we want. We keep paying to see them. So they keep making them.

I realize that this has been more of a critique of the Marvel series in general than the newest Captain America; The Winter Soldier has its fun moments, and its hardly the worst of the Marvel movies. But I’ve just become so utterly sick of watching the same movie over and over again.

Things blow up. Samuel L. Jackson pops up. The hero makes some funny “quips” between shots against the bad guys. He wins. Yay. Cut to a post-credits sequence that has absolutely nothing to do with the film you just watched, its only purpose being to somehow entice you to come see whatever comes out next. Repeat.

I simply have no reason to care for anything that’s happening onscreen here. Even nine films in, I couldn’t be more apathetic towards these characters or anything plot-wise. Apparently a secretly-elusive group of civilized terrorists calling themselves HYDRA have created chaos throughout history so that humanity would surrender its freedom. Why? Not sure.
Spoiler: Captain America’s old wartime pal’s been conveniently frozen alive, and operated on to become a “super soldier.” Why? No clue.
Some random jogger is flying around in a military-grade winged contraption that for some reason no one else knows how to use except him? Why exactly does any of this matter? Beats me.

The great film series (the ones like Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, 007, Back to the Future, Indiana Jones, The Dark Knight, The Godfather, and Toy Story) are all comprised of films that are able to stand on their own as well as help tell a larger story. Captain America: The Winter Soldier doesn’t work on its own.

The concept of “Captain America” having to save the nation from its own inner evils is an intriguing one, but only if it features characters who have real motives — not just bad guys who do bad things because, well… they’re the “bad guys.”

+ More humor than most Marvel movies
+ Great to see Robert Redford stepping back in front of the camera

Follows the same story structure as every Marvel movie before it
 Most of the characters have no clear motivations
Scarlett Johansson is super boring in this movie. Sorry.
Is this a movie or a video game demo? Way too much obvious computer-generated effects
An end credit sequence that has absolutely nothing to do with the movie you just watched


review-grade5Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the next in a long line of Marvel movies that hit all the same notes. Marvel junkies will disagree, but the series has become too big to fail — they keep producing the same crap over and over again because they know we’ll go see it, regardless of the quality, and look forward to the next one based on lazy foreshadowing to upcoming sequels and vague post-credits sequences. While The Winter Soldier is better than most Marvel movies, it’s just caused me to hit a breaking point. I really wouldn’t mind if I never saw another Marvel movie ever again. Sure, it can be fun. But it’s lazy. Nine films in, and nine times I’ve walked out of a theater, shoulders shrugged. Whatever.


Captain America: The Winter Soldier is rated PG-13 for “intense sequences of violence, gunplay, and action.” It should be fine for teenagers and up. 

© Matt Tory, 2014. 

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