Share This Page

'Winter Soldier' cool, but not major

| Thursday, April 3, 2014, 6:41 p.m.
Marvel Studios
Chris Evans battles it out with Sebastian Stan in 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier'

The superhuman efforts director Joe Johnston made to persuade Chris Evans to re-enlist in the comic-book movie universe as “Captain America” pay more dividends in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.”

Evans, that perfect specimen of American manhood, really sells the earnestness, the dry wit, the sense of duty and righteousness of the icon of American values that he represents in this sequel, even if Johnston isn't around to direct it.

There are clever ways the story folds back into the first “Captain America” film's world, great effects and a retro-future tech that is fascinating.

But “The Winter Soldier” lacks that lump-in-the-throat heart that Evans, Johnston and company brought to the first “Captain America.” The co-directors of “You, Me and Dupree,” Anthony Russo and Joe Russo, serve up a pretty generic sequel, with inconsequential villains and predictable flourishes.

From its quasi-fascist logo and overly imposing D.C. headquarters to the Stalin-esque uniform that Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) sports, S.H.I.E.L.D. (“Strategic Hazard Intervention Espionage Logistics Directorate” in the comics) is plainly a multinational agency that's reaching beyond its “fight evil, protect Earth” mandate. Robert Redford plays Alexander Pierce, the fellow who lords over the directorate of this ever-burgeoning security empire.

Nick Fury barely has time to fret over the idea that “to build a really better world, sometimes that means you have to tear the old one down,” when he's attacked. The Captain, Steve Rogers (Evans), and Black Widow, Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) set out to unravel this mystery, who the new menace is and what the enemy's masked “Winter Soldier” super-warrior has in his bag of tricks.

Johansson makes an apt, super-sexy sparring partner for the Captain.

The fights are spectacular combinations of digitally augmented stuntwork. Evans and Johansson make these shooting, strangling punch-outs cool.

“The Winter Soldier” has long, talky, dead stretches. It's emotionally flat, a lot closer to Evans' “Fantastic Four” films or the “Thor” sequel than it is to “Captain America: The First Avenger,” or “The Avengers.” It's OK for April, in other words, but not up to the higher standards of a Marvel summer blockbuster.

Roger Moore is a film critic for McClatchy-Tribune News Service.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.