drwex (drwex) wrote,

I saw "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" and it was good but not great

The last time I talked about a Captain America movie, I had the sense that the movie was best when it was a character piece, and the rest was terrible. This time, too, the character bits are the best part. For the rest it's probably best if you shut your brain off because otherwise you'll spend too much of the movie saying "wait, WHAT?"

I was glad to see that they didn't completely forget they were doing a Captain America movie (and not, say, Iron Man) but I was also disappointed that although the movie has three good female characters it still fails the Bechdel test. It also fails the Mori test, as all three of the women are white, conventionally attractive, and young. None are what Scalzi so accurately dubbed "spinny killbots" but the scriptwriters could have done so much better.

Speaking of non-white people, Anthony Mackie does a good job of being a hero; I'd love to see some commentary from black folk about how he rates as a black hero. Likewise, his war veteran status seemed to echo things I've heard from real vets, but I'm not qualified to comment.

At one level - the level I think succeeds - this is a movie about Steve Rogers figuring out who he is, out of time and also out of a world he recognizes. The movie is also uncharacteristically a buddy movie with Natasha Romanoff playing a role that bounces around wiseass sidekick, serious confidante, and personal foil. I think putting her in that position was one of the wisest moves this film made (and not just because I love watching Scarlett Johansson kick ass). Romanoff is in many ways the opposite of Rogers - something the scriptwriters start off hitting the viewer over the head with, but later relent. As a man who has to figure out who he is, it's natural for Rogers to begin by saying that he's not... that. Then events force him to figure out exactly what "not that" means.

Then there's the "plot"...

As mentioned, the plot is full of WTF. It's not little things, either. It's giant howlers like "We are somehow able to have a running multi-vehicle shootout with lots of wreckage and dead people including civilians and nobody notices." Seriously, after that you'd expect at least SOMEONE to notice. Never mind that the bad guys appeared to be impersonating cops - a whole lot of dead bodies in cop uniforms and smashed up cop cars tends to get a little notice. But never mind.

Let's talk about how you have a brain upload onto antiquated hardware that is still able to devise a modern algorithm and super-sophisticated hoo-hah... and somehow in all these years the uploaded persona has never managed to transfer itself to better hardware somewhere else. And yet all this ancient equipment has never failed - man, they don't make 'em like that anymore. Dafuq?

I'm willing to suspend a lot of disbelief around technobabble and geekery but when real alternatives exist, why go for the bullshit? Like, if you want to bust a bunker you don't launch a short-range ballistic missile AT NEW JERSEY. You'd think THAT would set off a few alarms, maybe? Did 9/11 just not happen in this universe? Why not just send one of your SHIELD black jets and drop a bunker-buster bomb? Those are real things.

And what is this BS about software being traceable back to where it was written? Did the bad guys encode a geolocatable IP address in there or something? Why? Why not just have the software "phone home" for updates and instructions. There's plenty of real malware and botnets that do this now and it's how law enforcement often finds command and control computers.

I get that Hollywood wants its drama, and I don't object to other ridiculous comic-book tropes, like flipping a copter on its side to catch someone falling, because this is after all a comic book movie. But at least TRY to have a plot that makes sense.

Which brings me to the entire plot maguffin. We're somehow going to do Minority Report on a global scale so that three ridiculous Space Battleship Yamato rip-offs can blast tens of thousands of people from high altitude and this is the ultimate plan for ... WHAT? Never mind the ridiculous idea that you could somehow shoot enough people through buildings like the White House and the Pentagon and somehow... what? You don't get your fool ass blown out of the sky by every SAM possessed by every industrialized country on Earth? How is this level of psychotic mass murder going to accomplish anything? Did you, once again, miss the memo about 9/11?

At the start of the movie the premise seems to be that these gunships are kind of like nuclear-tipped ICBMs. Nobody's crazy enough to use them but since they exist people are convinced not to do certain crazy things, and even to talk about being less crazy. I kind of OK, maybe, might stretch my brain around that. But once you start firing those guns are you just a big fat floating target for everything and everyone.

And why do you have to take over all three of them at once? Each one seems to have enough destructive power to take out the other two. Instead of waiting for some fake-ass dramatic countdown thing, just grab control of one of them and have it start blowing the other two up. And OK if you have control of all three, why bother with blowing each other up (except to give gunship nuts a woody)? Just drive the damned things into the ground/river.

So, yeah, pay attention during the close shots and any time the camera pulls back shut your brain off.
Tags: movie, review
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