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Movie Reviews

Captain America: The Winter Soldier



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Reviewer: Matthew Mainwaring

Directors: Anthony and Joe Russo

Stars: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan and Samuel L Jackson

Released: 26th March 2014 (UK)

Directed by the Russo Brothers (You,Me and Dupree, Arrested Development) Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the third of Marvels Superhero films since the genre changing hit “Avengers Assemble”. Set in Marvel’s “Phase 2” it like the previous two films (Iron Man 3 & Thor: The Dark World) not only strives to set up Avengers: Age of Ultron but to also stand on its own two feet as an independently successful film. So far Phase 2 has not had a solid start with Iron Man 3 being the surprising disappointment but Thor:The Dark World managed to snatch some of the loss back and Captain America: The Winter Soldier continues that trend with one of the strongest Marvel films yet!

Following on directly from the events of Avengers we find Steve Rodgers (Chris Evans) adjusting to 21st century life and catching up on the last 70 years he spent frozen in the Arctic. This early scene also cleverly and naturally introduces the latest superhero in Marvels cinematic universe Samuel Wilson (Anthony Mackie) as well as re-introducing us to super spy and Avenger Natasha Romanov (Scarlett Johannson) who quickly whisks Cap off to our opening fight aboard a captured S.H.I.E.L.D vessel with a strike team led by his trusted commander Brok Rumlow (Frank Grillo). What follows is one of the most brutal and well choreographed fight scenes ever seen in a superhero film. With the addition of a tense scene between Captain America and Black Widow the film finally reveals its tone. Unlike the previous humor driven Thor: The Dark World this film is an action film at its very core with a handful of spy espionage thriller thrown in. After a quick trip back to S.H.I.E.L.D HQ (shown for the first time!) some exposition delivered by Marvel regular Nick Fury (Samuel Jackson) and new comer Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford) reveals that S.H.I.E.L.D might not be the white knight portrayed in previous films (although there were hints at that before). Before the film gets a little too “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” though we get back to the films heart and discover not only how Captain Americas reappearance has impacted the world but what is left of the world he knew and loved. These scenes especially are where Chris Evans shines as a man out of time. When we get back to the S.H.I.E.L.D antics though its with Nick Fury who holds our attention right up the point where The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) finally turns up. With an impressive entrance and mainly mute performance the Winter soldier is a memorable villain compared to some of Marvels previous attempts (The Iron Man films being particular let down by its villains). Although his mysterious origins and faceless boss help make this character interesting early on a later twist in the story allows us to still love this character long after the previous secrets are revealed. It is at this point that the film becomes difficult to review without too many spoilers. With a series of twists and turns leaving Fury’s fate uncertain, Captain America marked a fugitive and three Helicarriers (flying weapon platforms) in the wrong hands Cap has to ally with The Black Widow, Sam Wilson (now called The Falcon) and returning Avengers star Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) to stop a threat at not only S.H.I.E.L.D but millions of people worldwide. The meeting of all these elements ends with a spectacular battle above the capitol city of movie climaxes Washington D.C (to be fair we have yet to see that city destroyed in a Marvel film). A fight that displays The Falcons abilities in the very best fashion. Look out for this fantastic new character in future Marvel films!

Although Winter Soldier brings new elements to the Superhero genre is also suffers from some of the more familiar problems of a Marvel film. The most painful being the villains. Besides the opening scenes the film relies on a cloak of mystery surrounding the true villains. Although a spectacular twist late in the film handles this well the heavily marketed “secret identity” of the Winter Soldier is not only painfully obvious but takes a very long time to be revealed. Another new character to the film suffers the same problem and it becomes a little painful a times! The lack of a proper conclusion (this film was commented as part 1 of 2) can be seen as the final damaging element, especially when you realize the wait before the next film! Still those are nigglingly complaints in an overall solid superhero film. Tonally it is so different to Thor: The Dark World I find it difficult to compare the two but that might also work in The Winter Soldiers favour being a little more down to Earth and a little less galactic adventure. As a comic fan I would suggest any fellow fans to see this as this like any Marvel film it is stuffed with references, cameos and name drops but many non-fans may find The Winter Soldier a breath of fresh air amongst some of the more outlandish superhero films. Whatever your reasoning for watching make sure to stick around for not one but two after-credit scenes. They are worth the wait and so was Captain America: The Winter Soldier…even if it was a 70 years in the ice!

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