The Falcon and The Winter Soldier (2021) Review

It’s been a while. Seeing that it’s the Christmas season, to celebrate I’m going to release a bunch of reviews of things far out of date and relevance! Over the next week or two I’ll be trying to release reviews of things that I haven’t reviewed yet. Including Loki, What If and Hawkeye, as well as a certain little movie that recently released about some spider-person. 

The Falcon and The Winter Soldier is a Disney Plus television series that looks at Sam Wilson/Falcon’s (Anthony Mackie) journey to decide to take up the mantle of Captain America after a government chosen choice, John Walker (Wyatt Russell), is shown to be troublesome. I apologize for waiting so long since this show finished to write this review, I’ve finally gotten the motivation to do this review. I enjoyed the show while it was airing, but I only did first thoughts for the first 2 episodes, so this review will primarily be an overview of what I thought of the show looking back on it this far away from having watched it. I know this is past the time that people were talking about the show, but I’m still doing it to get my thoughts out there. 

The story is relatively good for the show. It’s about the insecurities of the characters and how they deal with them. I think this is where the show is the strongest as everyone of the characters we get to see throughout the show is dealing with something. A major theme or idea for this show is mental health which it handles well, for the most part. It’s mental health issues, how people deal with them, and how to overcome yourself when it’s needed most. 

I think the characters were mostly all handled pretty well in the series. They all have some great moments and good arcs. The performances were all pretty good. Let’s go into some more specifics.

Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson/Falcon/Captain America is really good throughout the show. As one of the protagonist (maybe even the main protagonist) a lot of what happens in the show, and what the story kind of focuses on is around him and his feeling about being given the captain America mantle by Steve Rogers in Endgame. Everything in the show goes towards him eventually taking up the shield and deciding to make his own Captain America instead of being a government approved Captain America. Throughout the whole show we see why he struggles with taking up the mantle, from money problems after being snapped for 5 years, to learning that there’s a black super soldier that suffered for doing some of the same things Steve did. In the end we see why Steve chose Sam to carry the mantle. He has an interesting relationship with Bucky, as we see their relationship evolve from bickering with each other, to true friendship. 

Sebastien Stan as James Buchanan Barnes/Bucky/Winter Soldier is also really good throughout the show. He brings his typical snarkiness/dark reflective nature to the show. I enjoy how they decided to make his arc throughout the show is him making amends and trying to repay for his actions as the winter soldier. While doing this he also deals with his own issues with Sam, as Bucky and Sam don’t have the same relationship that Bucky had with Steve. He’s still feeling the affects of his past and the fact that for basically the past decade he’s been hunted, frozen, in hiding, and dead. This is his first time where he’s just able to have a bit of a normal life in 80+ years. We get to see Bucky open up about his feelings, as well as having fun and a good time with Sam and his community and family. 

Wyatt Russell as John Walker/Captain America/US Agent is also really good in this show. He’s the perfect soldier, a man who has served his country to the best of his ability in the way they taught him. We get to see how this may not be the best way to create an American hero, as the way his government taught him created the problems that led to his downfall in the series. It was really interesting to see a normal human be given this mantel, and so entering this new world of super soldiers and super terrorists. We get to see his descent into taking the last serum for himself. We get to see a lot of what makes him tick, and how he wants to do the right thing, but his training makes him maybe go the wrong way. We see how he still has a good heart, but he’s willing to go to lengths the others aren’t willing too. One thing about his character I enjoy is that it makes me wonder how this all would have gone if Sam and Bucky were more open to working with him throughout the show instead of constantly shutting him out. 

Everyone else in the show was great as well. Carl Lumbly as Isaiah Bradley was incredible in his epsiodes as a former super soldier showing the issues with the system. His character helps Sam make the decision to become Captain America. Daniel Bruhl as Baron Zemo is a standout in the show and is a lot more fun as character this time around. Sharon Carter was kinda cool, the reveal was kinda meh though. The Flagsmashers were interesting villains, but they have their issues as villains and it’s kinda hard for me to point out my issues with them. They just feel off to me.

On the technical aspects, the show looked good. Kinda bland, but had some moments. The effects were good, and the music and sound design was ok. The fight scenes were pretty good and memorable. The big fight between Bucky, Sam, and Walker was a stand-out.

Over-all this was a good first season. It had its good moments and some ok ones. It could have been a lot better. If you haven’t seen it yet I’d recommend it. 1 Thumb up. 

Black Widow (2021) Review

So I just got back from seeing Black Widow on Saturday the 24th of July at the theatres (first time in 2 years) and I thought it was pretty good. It’s a fun movie with some great character moments and some good action scenes. 

I liked how the story takes place after civil war and before Infinity war and acts as a set up for some stuff that could happen in the future. It’s a good time period to set a film as it’s a part of the timeline where we haven’t really seen a lot of at this point in time. The only films that take place during that time on earth are Spider-Man Homecoming and Ant-Man & The Wasp, at least the films with consequences from Civil War anyways. Without getting into spoilers this film really feels like Black Widow: The Winter Soldier, in terms that the main physical villain and the enemies in the film are pretty similar to Hydra. A lot of elements in the film feel pretty similar, along with something that I will try not to spoil. 

This is a film about family, and about Natasha rediscovering her family, as well as establishing Yelena for the future.  I enjoyed the pacing of the film as it didn’t feel long and gave all the characters time to breath and have moments together. 

This film does a lot for Natasha as a character as we get a more in depth look at her history and the kinds of things she was involved in as a part of the red room. We get to see the forces that made her the way she is, and just how much power those forces have. This movie is what Natasha needed as it gave much a better look at what she has done and what she had to go through to get to the point she has and why she feels the way she does about the Avengers and being a part of the Avengers. The movie allows her to be emotional and to feel things that we don’t really get to see in her other appearances. This film also kind of shows why Natasha and Bruce had a bit of a romance in Age of Ultron as we see a lot more of the bad stuff she did and how they could relate to each other in that they don’t judge each other for their pasts and their other personas. Speaking about her past, it’s her actions that create the physical villain of the film, which we’ll talk about a little bit later. 

Scarlett Johansson does a great job in this film at keeping some of the sarcastic and quick wit we’ve seen from her in the past apparances, but now we get to see her flex as Natasha a bit more and see how she’d respond and interact with other characters she has a past with. Her performance is effective for the material she is given. She shines when she is with the family as they are able to bring some fun and serious emotions out of her. 

This film also sets up the character of Yelena Belova, fellow widow and chosen sister of Natasha. She shines the brightest in this film. She’s funny, badass, the one that gets the plot started, and she has some great moments in the film. She has a lot of the major beats in the film as she has the most riding on what happens. We see how much Natasha has an effect on her and how much she truly cares for her. Her personality shines throughout the film and really makes me excited to see her in the future. Florence Pugh also does a great job in this film and plays her perfectly. She’s funny, badass, and is very effective at what the film requires of her. 

Next is Melina who is fine I guess. We don’t get much of her in the film and she works in the motherly role. She’s there as the tech expert in the film which works I guess. Again she doesn’t do too much in the film and her intelligent and kind of introverted character fits the film but isn’t too memorable. Rachel Weiz does a great job with what she’s given and has some fun scenes. 

After that is one of my favourite characters of the film, Alexei. He’s funny, boastful, badass, and really can carry the scenes he’s in.  He acts as the fatherly role in the family, and even brings in some pathos in how he sometimes shows that he kind of hated it deep down inside. He’s a man of action, he wants to be out there exploring and fighting, maybe even against Captain America. He loves his family but his pride can make him view them as a disappointment, that he doesn’t want to be with them. He’s a bit of a comic relief character in the film, in that a lot of the comedy comes from him and his antics, but he’s not an annoying character to me. David Harbour does another amazing job as Alexei and plays him perfectly. 

Finally there’s the villain, Dreykov played by Ray Winstone. He’s ok I guess. He’s kinda boring as he’s mostly just some guy. Sure, he’s the head of this big secret organization with these big plans and a crazy amount of control, yet he’s just some dude at the end of the day. He doesn’t really bring anything interesting to the film. He can be intimidating but because we don’t really get a lot from him until the last act of the film, and what we do get isn’t great. I would be a bit more forgiving if they did more from him or if he had more personality. The performance is fine and works for what the character is given. He definitely feels like a commentary on a certain kind of man who loves having control over people, who is full of pride, and who in the end is some flabby guy. They only kind of interesting thing I found about him is just how deep he loves control with some stuff that I won’t spoil. 

With Dreykov comes Taskmaster. I won’t get much into the character as they don’t do much, it would be a spoiler for a major point for Natasha’s character, and there isn’t really much there in the end. I mean what we do get is kinda cool, but that mostly has to do with the action and suit design. Although I do wonder if the suit also has some enhancements as well as the user having the Super Soldier Serum as they are strong. The only spoilers thing I’ll say is that there is a reason I’ve been comparing the film to Winter Soldier a lot throughout this review. 

The comedy really worked throughout the film for me and I thought it was handled well. It didn’t feel like a comedy but there was still a bunch of comedy in the film. There were some jokes that felt a little weird that, but over-all was pretty good. The comedy was mostly character focused and felt pretty natural coming from these characters.

The film has some good action. I didn’t feel that it lacked anywhere and the fight scenes were handled pretty well. Taskmaster has some good fights and there are some good chase scenes. It was cool seeing more Widow style fights, especially with all the different Widows in the film. 

The film looks pretty good for the most part. The cinematography was good and the editing was well done and things didn’t feel too much. I think the movie lacked technically in the VFX department though. There were some scenes that could have really used either more time, or have been thought out more. It’s serviceable for the most part, but there can be a few funny looking moments if you notice them. The costumes are pretty good, with Taskmaster being a stand-out. 

Over-all I thought this was a good movie over-all. It has it’s issues and doesn’t have a lot of huge moments in it like some other marvel movies. It’s enjoyable so I’d recommend it.

I’ll give it One Thumb Up, see it in the theatres if you want, or wait until it’s on Disney Plus.