CAPTAIN AMERICA: WINTER SOLDIER REVIEW

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‘Murica! Not bad at all, not bad at all. I salute you. An enjoyable action packed romp. Now I felt the first installment of Captain America had a lot of potential and a good set of characters to milk a few more sequels set in the war backdrop. However, it was rushed. And rightly so, as it seemed to get the set up sorted for the impending Avengers release. To be honest, I love the Marvel universe but I felt some of the entries have been mixed from the rehashed Hulk origin stories (I actually preferred the Ang Lee version with Bana Banner) to the brilliantly executed Thor films. Avengers Assemble for me was (don’t hate me) over-hyped, overlong and OTT for me, redeemed by an action packed half hour. However, this inevitable sequel in a number of relentless comic book movies manages to stand on its own and be a worthy addition and improvement on the Captain America franchise.

Gutted how swift Captain Steve Rogers was pushed from WW2 to the present, this film manages to focus on Roger’s transition which makes for some unexpected surprises and develops his character a little more. The Cap was always more relate-able. An ordinary guy wanting to beat the odds and become extraordinary (‘Murica!). Luckily, Rogers has surpassed his adjustment stage, which was worked well in Avengers Assemble. He’s starting to catch up with the times. A joke regarding his check out list on the internet (so helpful) was nicely done. However, a new war is brewing under the clean streets of Washington, one that compromises the very organisation of SHIELD, leading to an action packed, octane thrill ride (that is a little long at 136 minutes) that questions the Cap’s very ethics and honour. With a new war comes a whole new set of rules and lines he does not want to cross.

The action set pieces are great to watch. The fight scenes are intense and brilliantly choreographed. The 3D element left much to be desired apart from the explosive finale. Not a necessity in your viewing experience to be honest. Chris Evans is fantastic. He is Captain America. His presence, his build (The dude is hench!) and his performance are spot on. There’s great chemistry between him and the alluring Black Widow, Ms Scarlett Johansson. Did anyone else sense a brewing superhero romance? The introduction of another Marvel addition worked quite well with the talented Anthony Mackie (who has been showing up in a lot of recent projects, Runner Runner and Pain and Gain) as the Falcon. The directing duo The Russo brothers incorporated and revamped him quite well. Not enough of him. The partnership between him and Evans was decent. More of that please, which inevitably there will be.

Samuel L (the L stands for Mother – you get the idea) Jackson unleashes the Fury (ah ha) at last. Finally being brought into the action and given more screen time. There were some surprising turns as well with a number of characters reappearing. It helps to have watched earlier efforts, that’s a given as it will fill in the little bits. The film does try and recap for those who haven’t or have forgotten. The Winter Solider is a worthy foe. His mystery and violent manner creates some decent fight sequences. However, his big reveal is hardly a twist or a shock. A bit too much build up and emphasis. Great to see Robert Redford and he plays the inevitably shifty senator/congressman to perfection. He does unfortunately dither into the background by the end but the guy is nearly 80 so give him a break.

The supporting cast was impressive, if maybe wasted a little. Cudos to Maximiliano Hernandez for his turn as Jasper Sitwell (Marvel Agents of SHIELD TV fans will know. I remember him for his performance in the Americans. Another good show). Jenny Agutter (Call the Midwife/An American Werewolf in London) and Alan Dale (Jim from Neighbours/Lost) play the typically shady powers that be. Frank Grillo is menacing as always. However, I can’t help but feel that the guy is being typecast here. The beautiful Emily Van Camp (Revenge/Brothers and Sisters), talented though she is, is given a relatively minor and passive role. To be frank, anyone could have played her. If not for a little twist, well if you can call it that, her character would have been pointless.

However, the action is good. The lines are funny, with some decent banter. An actual story line that fleshes out Rogers’ character and makes him less of a caricature. There may be plot holes and the questionable length but it has incorporated another line of movies that most likely there will be. But this time around, I will be looking forward to 3.5/5 for me. Of course, stay for the credits for a mid-credit reveal. Don’t say to the very end, the little clip is very pointless. Might as well have had Stan Lee pop up and say you still sitting there? Ha ha!

Currently ranks #38 out of 157!

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