Friday, April 4, 2014

OVER THE CAP

There are many exciting, ingeniously-directed scenes in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the extravagant sequel to 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger.



On the deck of a ship, for instance, the Marvel hero (Chris Evans) engages in an extended scrap that looks like some sort of folk dance with a French pirate. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) holds off an attack by gunmen dressed as cops from inside his heavily fortified SUV. A little later, Cap finds himself surrounded by turncoat enemies in an elevator, and all hell breaks loose in the enclosed space.

These sequences and others are cleverly executed by directors Anthony and Joe Russo. The movie also has Scarlett Johansson going for it—she’s drolly alluring as Cap’s butt-kicking ally Black Widow. I enjoyed Johansson’s gentle prodding of the less-than-electric Evans, but overall, when the end credits of Captain America: The Winter Soldier arrive, it’s more a relief than anything.

The 2011 film, which squared Cap off against his nemesis Red Skull, was a period piece, circa WWII, which maybe gave it a bit more snap and flavor than some of the other Marvel flicks of recent years. Cap was frozen in that film and thawed-out in contemporary times, and the new movie pits him, along with Black Widow and Falcon (Anthony Mackie) and a few other good guys, against cyborg menace Winter Soldier. It’s watchable, but it gets bogged down in too many interminable shoot-outs and chases, and a lengthy finale involving giant airships.

Indeed, it suffers from the same problem—though I may be in the minority in regarding it as a problem—as most recent superhero flicks: None of them seem to know When To Quit. They dawdle on, climax after climax and then coda after coda, even interrupting the end credits for a now-obligatory parting shot. My best guess is that, having charged us so much for our tickets, they’re terrified that we’re going to feel we haven’t gotten enough for our money.

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