So, you know how a movie can be so bad it's good, so badly executed and unintentionally funny that you enjoy yourself despite the lack of craftsmanship and ingenuity involved. Well, The Winter Soldier is the exact opposite. Jesus Christ, I don't think I've ever seen a movie so perfectly executed before outside of The Godfather films. The fight choreography, set design, pacing, costuming; all of it perfect. Haley Atwell's aged makeup was unbelievably convincing. And the performances were so seamless you never doubted any of it.
But it was all draped over such a by-the-numbers "thriller" that I couldn't believe how bored I was the whole time. Part of it was media saturation (they put the first 10 minutes of the film on Youtube). Part of it was familiarity with the source material. But a good chunk of it was just the number of Hollywood cliches that they managed to pack into the thing. From the catchphrase ("on your left") that bookends the film to the faked death of one of the main characters to interrogating the traitor, it had all been done before.
This is not to say that it was a bad movie, because it totally wasn't. It was a just a perfectly executed, generic, action-thriller. And, at points, it made me smile, specifically the way the handled Zola (ooohhh, that made me grin). But I remember that by the time the Helicarriers were smashing into the Triskelion I was just begging the film to cut to the post-credit sequence(s) because I knew how it was going to end. Or, at least, I thought I did, because it didn't actually end at all.
And that's sort of the problem I'm beginning to have with the Marvel Cinematic Universe; there are no satisfying conclusions to anything. Agents of SHIELD, for as much as I enjoy it, is becoming a constant bait and switch act. Thor: The Dark World felt like an episode of a TV show with phenomenally good production values, and the ending of The Winter Soldier just made me go "unnnnnnnngggghhhh." Because there wasn't an ending. It was "To be continued in Avengers 2." The only reason Iron Man 3 even had an ending was because it was Downey Jr.'s last solo movie. Which, I get that this is the nature of serialized storytelling, but there is a point where it drags on for too long. You would think that Marvel learned their lesson with The Clone Saga or The Legacy Virus stories; Don't stretch these things out for too long.
Anyway, Marvel studios are going to make an insane amount of money off of Cap 2, because it was just that well done. We'll almost certainly get the next installment. And I really wish I could be excited about it. I just never thought I'd see a movie so good that I found it to be dull.