Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Movie Review: Captain America - The Winter Soldier

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Great characters give heart to the action and effects
Cons: None for me
The Bottom Line:
Captain, meet action
Blockbuster is filled with heart
Enjoyable ride

"On Your Left."

I know, I know.  I did it in the wrong order.  There was all kind of talk about how important it was to watch Captain America: The Winter Soldier opening weekend before continuing on with the TV show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  And yet, I blindly kept watching the TV show and only watched the movie last night.  While that meant I was spoiled for some events of the film, I still enjoyed it immensely.

Steve Rogers, aka Captain America (Chris Evans), is settling into life in the modern era.  He's still trying to catch up on culture he has missed, but the missions he goes on for S.H.I.E.L.D. are helping keep him busy, which he appreciates.

However, after one mission almost goes wrong because Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) has a separate mission, Steve begins to question his place in the organization.  At the same time, Director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) begins to suspect there is something very rotten in his organization.  Couple that with a Russian assassin called The Winter Soldier who has a surprising connection to Steve's past, and you have a situation getting more complicated by the minute.  Who will survive?

Being a superhero movie, you'd expect lots of action, and you won't be disappointed.  The stunts and effects are outstanding, and I loved every minute of them.  This is a big budget event film living up to its expectations in every way, and I loved that.

However, sometimes that means the movie skimps on character as a result.  I didn't find that to be the case here at all.  In fact, the characters felt better defined for me than they did the first time around.  I really connected with Captain America and his struggle to find the right side to be fighting for.  When things turn personal late in the film, I really felt for him.  Yes, even as the explosions were going on around us, I was worried about his personal story.  I also loved his new friend Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie).

All this means the actors had more to do than in a normal action movie, but they did a wonderful job.  There are some great small moments that mean so much.  Heck, I think one reason I connected with Sam so quickly was that Anthony Mackie makes him so likable from the very beginning.  Chris Evans has the right mix to make us care for Steve, which is hard in a character as almost perfect as he is playing here.  Scarlett Johansson is having a blast as Black Widow, and that comes across for us as well.  Samuel L. Jackson is given the most to do in any of these movies so far, and he makes the most of it, too.

There is a nice smattering of humor in the movie, too.  It's just enough to lighten the mood without destroying the tension they are building.

And I mentioned the action and effects, right?  Because that climax was a sight to behold, and I loved it.

I'm definitely ready for the next stop in this franchise, both Marvel over all and Captain America specifically.  I hope they keep building on the success that is Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

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