Over the last week I have watched more movies than I have in the last three months. I simply haven’t had time or desire to watch anything. I would much rather read. The two hours or so given to a movie is one hundred pages of a good book. Lately I have limited my movie watching to catching reruns of whatever has been scrolling on the cable channels as I look for a football or baseball game. But as I was walking around the library this last week I ran into several movies that I have been wanting to watch. The new Godzilla, The Amazing Spider-Man II and Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
First I will say that I enjoyed Godzilla as the best American made Godzilla and having said that; America leave Godzilla to the Japanese to do. They do it right. We never will. First off we don’t respect it and I will take the guy in the rubber lizard costume over American Hollywood movie magic every time. Because it just works that way. So suck it up and move on.
Next, The Amazing Spider-Man II…okay getting…trying to come up with something nice to say. I liked Gwen Stacy. That’s about it.
What blew it for me were the villains. I mean, I know this is a comic book character, but take a look at Loki and at Joker. Respect the material and make an effort. Jamie Foxx as Electro was incredibly subpar. I went into this movie with high hopes after reading how Foxx nailed it in other reviews. But for me it was a one dimensional performance with little personality. Whether as a timid geek with no friends or a bitter psychopath. Foxx’s performance was strictly by the book. In the comics Electro is a megalomaniac power hungry villain. Here he comes off as a angry lightning bug on steroids. And the Goblin. Honestly that is all you are going to give to Norman Osborn? No other villain in Spidey lore has had a more powerful effect on Spidey / Peter Parker and the best we are going to offer here is a death scene? Straight to Harry and I have to admit, I liked how Harry was played in this one even though there was little resemblance to the Harry Osborn in the comic books.
And then there was Rhino. Oh my God. Yes I spelled it out. Really this is what it looks like. OMG is Oh My God. Really. Look it up dumbass.
Paul Giamatti, dude were you hurting for money? One of the better actors of our time, who actually acts and doesn’t get by on his looks. Because, basically he doesn’t have any. One of his best works is in the ultra violent, ultra fun, Shoot ‘Em Up. If you haven’t seen it, pick it up. Giamatti as Rhino is a stretch but Rhino as a mechanized Robotech rip-off is even worse. What made Spidey villains so damn awesome is that in some way they were like him. Regular people changed by biological engineering or accidents to become something even more. Rhino, Doc Oc, Sandman, Venom, Tarantula, Vulture, Lizard, etc. But not as some robot with the firepower of a small battleship.
The Amazing Spidey II ranks up there with Spider-man III, too many villians, too poorly done. An obvious lack of respect for the material they came from.
So obviously with some trepidation, I come to Captain America: The Winter Soldier. I liked the first movie, but thought it was a little safe. Hugo Weaving as the Red Skull was freaking awesome though. Seriously, talk about respecting the character and playing it right. Weaving absolutely nailed it. His Skull was the perfect foil to the wooden, do-gooder, character of Captain America. Overall, it was a little safe, not really breaking new ground and tying into the Avengers movie quite well.
Now the Winter Soldier. Would Captain America play it safe again?
Hell now. The Winter Soldier delves deep into the characters as they struggle to find out the difference between right and wrong in today’s complicated landscape. I am not going to go into the plot but let’s just say that patriotism in today’s world is much more complicated than in the 1940s and Captain America does an awesome job of addressing it without pulling punches.
The Winter Soldier tells a pretty original story but holds true to the mythology of each of its characters. When the Winter Soldier appeared in the comics and turned out to be Bucky, I will admit at the time that I thought it to be something of a rip-off for the Jason and Batman storyline that was introduced in Hush. But here it is a tale all its own. With a lethal and grown up Bucky, assassin extraordinaire, Cap must face off against his old best friend who seems to have no memory of him. The introduction of The Falcon is also done very well and in the comic book world, it is the Falcon who now steps into Caps shoes. The Black Widow becomes more and more like her comic book persona and the remaining cast of characters fill in perfectly creating an exciting and thought provoking movie experience. All this in a comic book movie.
The Winter Soldier gives me hope that the comic book movies to come will do two very important things to make them successful in my eyes.
They will respect their source material.
They will be original in their own right.
Pick up the Winter Soldier and enjoy.