Review

Before starting, I just want to say that I will keep the plot details thin, especially for a film like this where endings and plot twists have been so highly speculated.  Anyway, let’s begin.  Anthony and Joe Russo seemed like an odd choice for directors for a big-budgeted action film, yet Marvel has a way of taking talented directors who don’t necessarily have the blockbuster resumes, and provide them an outlet to create something exciting.  With Captain America: The Winter Soldier, they have done just that.  Together with writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely and an all-star cast, they have created what many may believe is the most complete Marvel movie to date.  Sure The Avengers was great, but after a few re-watches, it grew tired.  Part of the charm from that film was just seeing them together, and to see how Marvel would tie-in these different franchises.  Phase 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe started with Ironman 3, followed by Thor 2, and now with Captain America 2, Marvel seems to have officially found their stride.  With a healthy balance of humor/drama/action, The Winter Soldier felt like something special.  It’s part spy thriller, part action film, with slightly less of the humor Marvel has been criticized for in the past.  Joe and Anthony Russo have brought one of the weaker (it’s like my opinion man) Marvel heroes to a whole new light, and have created the most compelling Marvel film to date.

Set two years after The Avengers, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) works in Washington D.C. for SHEILD, and continues to struggle adapting to modern society.  Things are not so smooth at SHEILD, as trust becomes a major problem.  After a shield member is attacked, Rogers can’t trust anyone, and the conspiracies run deep.  The only people he can trust are Natash Romanoff aka Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and new friend and fellow veteran Sam Wilson/Falcon (Anthony Mackie).  Together with these two and Nick Furry (Samuel L. Jackson), they attempt to stop the corruption that has plagued SHEILD up to the highest levels, where at the top rests Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford), who is the senior commander in charge.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier did an excellent job of connecting and advancing the Marvel Cinematic Universe, to the point where things are setting up beautifully for the future.  There are a lot of past tie-ins that the Winter Soldier covers, but the less you know, the more compelling the movie is.  Ironman 3 felt out of place at the time of its release, and this movie does a good job explaining what that was all about.  SHEILD is reflective of our own systems within society, and that corruption can infiltrate the systems which are supposed to protect the people.  Story-wise, Cap 2 was intriguing from beginning to end, with a compelling antagonist in The Winter Soldier played by Sebastian Stan.  SHEILD had always seemed so invincible, and it’s interesting to see how even they have their problems.  Winter Soldier references previous MCU films, so make sure you’re up to date on your stories, or at least refresh yourself with the original.

The original was not terrible, but one thing that’s hard to watch in that film are the visual effects.  I know they were going for a specific look, but with the new film, they nailed it.  Presented in 2D, 3D, and IMAX, Cap 2 is visually stunning.  With D.C. as the background, the cgi elements look perfect with the setting of the film.  The action scenes are tense, and feel like they actually have an impact.  The humor is still sprinkled in, but severely moderated from previous Marvel outings.  This helped set a tone for the film with the perfect balance of drama and action.  The core group of Cap, Falcon, and Black Widow are awesome together.  Mackie and Evans have great chemistry, and Johansson of course has good chemistry with everyone.

Fans of the MCU and superhero movies in general, are in for a wild ride with Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Marvel seems to be learning along the way, and they have succeeded in the new adventure.  The summer movie schedule is off to a great start, and after August’s Guardians of the Galaxy, we’ll be able to look back and examine all these movies together.  For now, enjoy the Russo brothers’ new film, and if you can, see the IMAX 3D version, but any will do.  Marvel has never looked as interesting as it does after viewing this movie, and combined with the uncertainty of what to expect in the future.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier has a runtime of 136 minutes, and will be presented in 2D, 3D, and IMAX 3D formats.  It opens in theaters April 4, 2014.

 



About the Author

Peter Towe
Peter Towe
A graduate of UMASS Boston, I have successfully put off getting a "real" job, and continue to watch, produce, review, and obsess over movies. I lived in Boston while I completed my degree, and now live in Chicago trying the improv thing.