Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Movie Review: Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) - Directed by Joe Russo, Anthony Russo; Written by Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely; Starring Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Robert Redford, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Cobie Smulders, Emily VanCamp, Hailey Atwell.

By Kenny Howell

As a person who loves comic books but doesn't really like comic book movies, I am always a little reluctant to see them.

That is why I am just now seeing Captain America: The Winter Soldier, among other reasons I have mentioned on this site before (i.e. kids are time stealers).

The first Captain America film was one of my favorite of the new Marvel wave that has seen a handful of movies come out each year for several years now. Iron Man 3 with all its Shane Blackness may be my favorite, but Captain America: The First Avenger was up there.

The second film should really be where a comic book movie franchise takes off because comic book movies are the only genre where the first act of a story takes up at least 75% of the first film. Origin stories are used to a ridiculous extent these days (looking at you Man of Steel), so it basically ends up being the entire first film.

Captain America: The First Avenger was able to mask that a bit with its lead in Chris Evans and just an overall charm throughout the movie. Captain America: The Winter Soldier takes that foundation and runs with it perfectly.

As viewers of the first film know, Captain America was frozen for many years only to be woken up in present day, mostly because it's hard to make The Avengers movies with him 70 years in the past. A new enemy has appeared called The Winter Soldier. He kills Nick Fury early on, and that leads Captain America after him, which unveils a vast conspiracy that sees the lines between S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hydra blurred. Captain America uses the assistance of Black Widow (Johansson) to try and stop the possible rise of Hydra and the corruption of S.H.I.E.L.D.

The film is a perfect blend of terrific action scenes and thoughtful debate of the role of law in criminal acts. How far will you go, how far should you be allowed to go to get done what needs to get done. It was something that Christopher Nolan was able to balance well, especially in the middle The Dark Knight film, but most don't even try. The Russo brothers, who are now a hot commodity, came mostly from TV work, and it's surprising how well they adapt to a big budget film such as this. It may be the best Marvel movie to its date, though I haven't seen the third installment of this series yet. However, this one is tough to top.

Rating: ***1/2

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