Is it just me or does it seem like Scarlett Johansson has been sixteen for the past fifteen years? I saw her yesterday in Black Widow: The Winter Soldier--I mean, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, though Johansson as Natasha "Black Widow" Romanoff easily steals the picture. Well, Samuel L. Jackson and Robert Redford are good, too.
Even though it has the same screenwriters, this movie, unlike the first film, is good. Maybe because it's not the same director, maybe because it takes place in the present instead of being a period piece that so thoroughly misses the proper tone for the 1940s. Though I think my main complaint about the first film was that people frequently made decisions that didn't make sense. There was some of that in the new film--particularly a moment near the end where the villain refrains from killing Black Widow for no apparent reason.
Chris Evans is really muscular. I believe him doing the action stuff. He's good enough, I guess.
The movie returns to the well of Order versus Chaos that seems to be the predominant theme of superhero films--it's hard not to hear Aaron Eckhart saying, "You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain." Winter Soldier doesn't come close to The Dark Knight but it's not bad. Using Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans and obvious references to U.S. national security policy, the movie risks being trite. It's mainly the actors who carry that bit off, particularly Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury whose desire for institutional secrecy and power stem from personal trust issues. But everything is overshadowed by Scarlett Johansson kicking ass.
I went to see it with Tim who had to leave for the restroom before the end credits finished and got to the now obligatory Marvel movie Easter Egg. So I had the pleasure of telling him he missed the cameo by Hugh Jackman as Wolverine and Tobey Maguire as Spider-man riding a T. Rex from Jurassic Park after Christian Bale's Batman riding the Queen Alien from Aliens while Scarlett Johansson watched completely naked.
Last night, I read the new story from Sirenia Digest, "The Beginning of a Year Without a Summer", a really nice, atmospheric vignette about juxtaposed realities, the futility and the urgency of interpreting symbols. I was reminded of the Oscar Wilde quote, "All art is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril. Those who read the symbol do so at their peril."