Captain America: The Winter Soldier

The Möbius Pest Strip


Come back to the five and dime, Jackie Chan, Jackie Chan
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Reported on 5th of April, 2014

Phathi said he wanted to see what I would say about Cap’m Murica: You are my Nazi brother with amnesia! and so I just did.

All right, fine.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

30 March 2014 @ no theater


$3.00 or, if one must be quotidian, and one must... 
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

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Richard and Phathi seemed to like it, and there was talk about it being better than than first (maybe), and then better than Transformers (is this really a yardstick now?), and you could make a comparison between two different ways to be eaten alive by rats while ferrets set the rats on fire, but 1) it’s really not that bad, and 2) why would ferrets hate rats so much? They’re both rodents, I think they’d just leave each other alone.

No, Captain America: Hauptbannführer Non-America is fine, which is even worse. To emphasize its averageness, you would make a comparison between two different ways of sitting in a seat very still, doing nothing at all for two hours. Hey, that’s exactly what I did! Please remember this is what dogs see us doing when we watch movies, and in the case of Captain America: Now There are too…many Captain Americas! they are right. Average (read boring) things, like great and awful things have a kind of threshold (or maybe it’s the same one, just in the middle). When something is wonderful, you want to celebrate in the same way, just like the bad films make you want to gouge your eyes out in the same way (with burning rats). When something is boring, the affect is so low I honestly don’t know how to compare it to whatever I would compare it if I had the energy.

It’s not so much great being evil, as it is great imagining it exists so that you can be free to do evil things. No one wants to be evil, they just want to do it. Which in turn means it is great to be evil.

This wouldn’t stop the various critics from giving it an inexplicably high tomatometer rating where Silence of the Lambs is apparently the same film numerically as Captain America: Fine, I’ll use the real title. But I think I kind of get it. There’s a good idea hiding in there about the surveillance state, something that brought in professional guvment castigator Mr. Robert Redford. And you imagine their little fingers going to touchscreens right after they exit their plush paid-for screening room where they didn’t have to sit through the Transcendence you-thought-we-gave-everything-away-in-the-first-trailer-but-look-how-much-we-showed-in-the-second-trailer trailer: ‘#CA:TWS has a lot to say about the evils of a government surveillance state. Retweet this a million times, and show them we’re serious about not being monitored. #NoOneCanForceMeToBeACogImAVolunteer!’. Which should give you an idea what would happen if I joined twitter.

Nothing.

That’s the point of twitter.

Further so, the character of Captain America has real potential as a patriot out of water. His old-fashioned values could have led to more unwelcome ‘sirs’ and ‘ma’ams’ thank you very much, perhaps even a holding a door open for a femme fatale robbing a bank moment. But there’s no sense of anything but a 2010s Everyman; he’s a nice guy, instead of an interesting one. An extreme character can lead to actual choices and compromises, instead of, as is seemingly always the case, characters telling us, him, I mean him, ‘You need to make a choice and/or a compromise. It may involve a lot of running around and throwing your shield at people, but by saying it’s a choice right now, that’s how the audience will see it. You. That’s how you will see it.’

I'd like to thank Phathi and Richard for the inclusion of peanut M&Ms. And apologize for not agreeing with them that instead of being average, this film is actually averagely above average. I owe you half a bag of Peanut M&Ms. Fine. A whole bag. And some ice cream. Oh, and maybe some Pirate's Booty.

I’d like to thank Phathi and Richard for the inclusion of peanut M&Ms. And apologize for not agreeing with them that instead of being average, this film is actually averagely above average. I owe you half a bag of Peanut M&Ms. Fine. A whole bag. And some ice cream. Oh, and maybe some Pirate’s Booty.

Further still, there’s more potential when the 1960s super-retro AI nazi computer (I didn’t say it was without camp value) explains that the one thing to learn from the Third Reich is that people don’t give up their freedom by force, but willingly, when there’s all types of chaos around. The secret is to manufacture the chaos. This is surprisingly astute, and now that I think about it, the exact same story as Iron Man 3, a film that I wished for more than once in my notes. But this insight doesn’t explain my big problem with the film: why would you want to take everyone’s freedom away? I mean, what’s so great about being evil?

The answer is it’s not so much great being evil, as it is great imagining it exists so that you can be free to do evil things. No one wants to be evil, they just want to do it. Which in turn means it is great to be evil. Wrote myself to a bit of a corner there. And since storytelling is about imagining evil, so what’s the problem? Well I think that I’ve been running on the hamster wheel of the comic book film for a long time, and there’s a certain samey quality to feeling like you’re watching a loop of the ending of The Return of the King, with the unfortunate addition of the post-credit whammo! In the comic book, as we know, you can’t kill the Batman or the Joker, and ultimately that’s kind of okay, since killing a character is a cheap crutch. Especially when it turns out that he’s not dead. Sorry, when it turns out that the audience has seen this so many times that they are willing to go along with pretending that they were surprised that he wasn’t dead.

And so it’s more about all the idiotic and convenient choices other characters have to make. In a way, it’s an improvement on what the Rifftrax folks call the Stormtrooper Military Academy, in that the baddies are excellent shots. They just seem to have a problem with the choice of targeting.

I don't understand. I keep shooting at the bulletproof shield. It seems bulletproof somehow! You're not shooting hard enough! Shoot harder! You idiot! You can't shoot harder. Aim harder. Aim harder!

-I don’t understand. I keep shooting at the bulletproof shield. It seems bulletproof somehow!
-You’re not shooting hard enough! Shoot harder!
-You idiot! You can’t shoot harder. Aim harder.
-Aim harder!

And yes, the only thing worse than my drawing ability in its current state is the attempt to make it better.

But I’m talking about bullets and tension. It’s fine that characters can’t die, but then don’t structure your film around people dying or not dying. What I mean is the script doesn’t fit the genre. There’s no problem with the films of Mr. Wes Anderson being hopelessly precious, other than they are agonizingly terrible of course. But if one was to be critical within the genre as a helpful, though in no way secretly mean, gesture, one could say Mr. Anderson’s films are structured like comedies, and so there’s just confusion when they turn out to not be funny. In the case of CA:COBRA, the tension is built around action and getting away, when we know that not only will they, but even the bad guys can’t die. This is compounded by the way in which it’s now a Marvelverse (bleech, a phrase which Marvel no doubt has purchased), and not only are we faced with a film that can’t end, but a perpetual state of sequel-dom.

(Editors note: I found this little note from Alan Moore at the end of Watchmen and wish I had it before I posted this. Think of all the people who’ve read this piece and missed this insight. I’d actually rather not think of it. In any case, Mr. Moore’s summary, besides being bourn of actual experience, is a bit more concise: ‘Regular comics, with their insistence upon rigid, cross-title continuity, present a lot of annoying limitations to the creator. The worst of these is that nothing can ever happen in any individual story that has any lasting effect on the world, since it is the same world inhabited by every other character in the company’s line.’ Enough, that’s right, I used the entire word, enough said.)

I think what the superior Iron Man 3 got was you can’t change this, so tell some jokes. Nothing ever changes, ergo this is comedy. What is certainly is not is a deep examination of the morals of murder. Please don’t, please, I’m begging you, don’t show me confounding comic book moment of ‘I should totally kill you because every time I let you live it leads to the deaths of thousands of innocent people. But I won’t. Because of my morals.’ And so on the endless treadmill, which is smooth, but not tense. And like all good treadmills, it’s the scenery that moves. God forbid we should get some exercise.

Profits!
On the other hand, there was no whining about how hard it is to be a superhero.
$1.00
Counts as camp:
So after the Avengers Assemble saw the helicarrier being, as it would be, blown up from the sky, they decided to simply build three more.
$2.00
They did improve them, though, by putting the central computer on the bottom, surrounded by a glass dome.
$2.00
Retro Nazi AI. Yeah. Almost worth seeing for this.
$3.00
From this moment forward, you can burn Multiple Academy Award Winner Mr. Robert Redford with a simple, and under the breath, ‘Hail Hydra.’
$6.00
This will NEVER get old.
Total Profits
$14.00
Losses!
The inability to cut all the producers’ notes gives us:
The inclusion of real PTSD sufferers
$3.00
Amnesia.
$1.00
What? Is he the only dude can fire a gun?
$1.00
She can’t trust! Until she does!
$2.00
And then, a bunch of computers rendered some stuff. For future reference, real people doing real stuff is fun. Pixels are not. Come back to the five and dime, Jackie Chan, Jackie Chan.
$4.00
Total Losses
$11.00

$3.00

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