captainCinema: Captain America: The Winning Soldier
By Ryder W. Miller

 It sure seems like a movie reviewer needs to know and remember a lot more than a book reviewer these days. When a book is difficult one can re-read it. Some books are better on the second reading also. That is usually not the case with movies where you can understand everything on the first viewing. One does forget things in time, and it is fun to see a film a second time even if memory of the film was not the issue.

Time will refeshen the movie, but there are also all those awards to remember. Writing about film is different than books. There are so many players involved in a film and it is difficult to separate them all out and write about them separately. Just like theater there is music, set design, lighting. In film there is also directing and cinematography. There is also writing and adaptation, but the writer might just be one of the crowd in these. Other mediums allow them much more freedom.

All said, comics book heroes are very memorable though and the writing has been interesting even if archetypical. We don’t just remember the name of the hero, but also their secret identity name. As characters they leave a strong heroic impression. The cinema has brought many of those wonderful heroes to life. The stories have been exciting with compelling plots and explosive action. One might argue that all these action scenes, a theory here, are a good workout for one’s heart. They certainly get the heart running when we have to sit at the edge of our seat. Don’t do anything rash without checking with a doctor first. This could be wrong.

Meanwhile those we remember by name are in enough danger that we want to play close attention to what is going on. These film franchises do seem to have developed a large following and a deep fan base. Just like it is sort of a dream, for some a bad dream, to see The Hobbit on the big screen for some, it has been amazing to cinematically see Spiderman (Peter Parker), Batman (Bruce Wayne), The X Men, and now Steve Rodgers who is Captain America.

The film does seek to explore some interesting ideologies. One might say it has some gravitas also. Big issues are being explored here. There are people willing to die for freedom and ideals. One might find an opportunity to explore the American Dream or Ideal here while everything is blowing up. The Winter Soldier has a lot of amazing action, maybe too much, and some surprises.

The plotting is also interesting with the characters needing to find out what is going one. Robert Redford gives and interesting performance sometimes voicing one of the islands idealism in a dangerous world, but here he is a villain. The movie is very militaristic revising some of the ideological issues of World War II. He has got caught adrift in the changing world. Captain America however does not, being an ideological rudder and leader combating the crass, jaded, and power hungry.

Friendships and relationships are explored for a movie with fascinating twists and turns. One could say that this might be one of the better written comic book hero movies of recent times. These films do evoke the inner fan. One might feel the tugs of patriotism in this one. There is a bigger picture here with arguments against weapons that could destroy the world. In some sense the movie is post nuclear with characters being afraid that the super weapons designed in this film could destabilize the world and leave a few with unlimited power. The world however can be blown up in the process in this one.

Captain America, a weapon himself, does not like the new weapons. One might say there was too much militarism and action in the film. Like other violent movies all the bullet from the bad guys usually miss. The heroes and super villains are tough enough to absorb a few of them, but I also theorize with that many bullets flying through the air more people are likely to be hit and killed.

We are not going to movies to watch our heroes die though. But they sure do seem to need some help today. Scarlett Johansson does so as The Black Widow of the Avengers, but she is merely a fine action adventure person without the sport enhancing drugs. She is a fine hero in this one despite her name.

I guess it comes down to what one is going to the movies for if you would like these. There have been a lot of comic book movies and they have been successful because many people have been fans of franchises like this since childhood. The new movies have now more of a modern edge. One can take their inner child out for a nice ride in somewhat familiar territory, actually being more of a familiar place if one has a longer memory. These are great if you want to see action. One needs to be careful in these imaginary settings as all the villains are not always on the screen.

RyderRyder W. Miller is an environmental reporter, independent scholar, critic, and eco-critic who writes about Nature, Astronomy, the Sea, Academic books, Art, American Literature, and Genre Literature. He also writes short stories (usually genre stories) and poems. He is the editor of From Narnia to a Space Odyssey and co-writer of San Francisco: A Natural History. He is currently looking for a publisher for a book of Nature Writing/News Columns called An Ocean Beach Diary (published in The West Portal Monthly and Redwood Coast Review), and a collection of genre stories (many already published in Mythic Circle and The Lost Souls website). He has published on the web what could be a book collection of essays about science fiction and fantasy. He is also working on a anthology of Environmental stories called Green Visions. Following the dictum of C.S. Lewis he has come to believe that it is easier to criticize than understand, but not every book is worthwhile or a contribution.