Tuesday, April 08, 2014

"Captain America: The Winter Soldier": super-heroes can be store digitally on computers and reconstructed, and even Putin knows this.


Captain America: The Winter Soldier” (Anthony and Joe Russo) seems a bit stereotyped as a Marvel comic book movie, and a less inventive sequel to “The First Avenger” in 2011.  But there are some good ideas here. 
  
The most interesting is probably the way the film depicts a 1940’s “villain” or Russian Winter Soldier Bucky (Sebastian Stan) from Hydra, apparently Russia’s new KGB, which has infiltrated Shield.  His consciousness had been digitized on a 1970’s era computer that looks rather like a Univac 1110 that I once ran benchmarks on.  Apparently that’s how Shield (aka the NSA and CIA) and Hydra generate superheros.  It would be nice to be preserved, and brought back as a perfect young male repeatedly.  That concept is something that I had explored with my own 1969 novel manuscript “The Proles” when I was in the Army, in the second half of the novel.  The film is not very specific as to how this works.

Shield has built a high rise fortress near the Pentagon, violating DC’s height limits.  The stuff underground, and that can rise into the air or sail down the Potomac is pretty impressive. 

Chris Evans plays Steve Rogers, the superhero, and apparently he had to sacrifice his chest hair for this role this time.  His face looks a bit aged from his days as one of the “Fantastic Four”.  Scarlet Johansson (who else?) plays the Black Widow, and Samuel L. Jackson is Nick Fury.  Robert Redford plays Alexander Pierce, the head of SHIELD, and apparently corrupted by HYDRA.  He conducts meetings with others transported in cylindrical holograms. 

Emily Van Kamp plays a Shield agent, and she is rather like her character in ABC's "Revenge".  Is Nolan nearby?
  
The film was shot partially around Cleveland.  The downtown scenes may be around Public Square, or along Euclid, near the new stadium.  The CGI work putting the Washington DC background across the river is pretty accurate.  The indoor scenes seem to have been filmed in Melbourne, Australia.

The writing is a bit wooden, with one liners like “soldiers have to trust one another”.  They call that “unit cohesion”.  But the script mentions some scary possibilities, like dirty bombs in Moscow in retaliation for a threatened EMP strike on Chicago.  Maybe we had better take Putin as a real threat to our own homeland security.  The idea of a “Russian soldier” seems prescient, and was written up before Putin started his aggression in the Ukraine (but the current crisis there is mentioned at least once, as if the writers suspected it would happen). 

The music score by Henry Jackman is impressive, with wide melodic leaps in the brass, echoing mid to late Mahler, Prokofiev and Shostakovich.  The closing credits give us a full  symphonic poem, with two visual epilogues telling us what to expect next.  The conclusion is abrupt and loud. 


The official site is here.
    

 I saw the film in a larger auditorium at the AMC Courthouse, in 3D and EDS.  I think that sometimes the closeup scenes allowed detail in the background to look a little fuzzy.  AMC has a new trademark film, with little red cartoon characters like Stephen King’s Langoliers, on a space station with an attitude.  

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