Friday, April 4, 2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier Review

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has returned once again this weekend with it's ninth movie thus far and third in Avengers Phase II. That movie of course is Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Before I jump into this one, I feel it appropriate to mention that while I liked Captain America: The First Avenger, I wasn't blown away by it. It necessary. It gave us the origin story of Captain America, introduced a pretty important weapon, and sent Captain America to the modern world to connect him with the Avengers. Outside that it was kind of a bore. It had a dumb villain and a less than spectacular story. Yes, it was better than Iron Man 2 in Phase I, but it was the worst origin story of Phase I. That said, I like the actual character of Captain America, especially in The Avengers, and I was excited to see this sequel because the movie looked way different. In fact, despite me thinking that The First Avenger was one of the worst in Phase I, I actually have thought for quite some time now that The Winter Soldier would end up as the best from Phase II. While we still have Guardians of the Galaxy to see before I can officially make that judgement call, so far I am correct. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the best of Phase II up to this point.

Just like Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World, the events of The Winter Soldier take place after The Avengers. With The Avengers, you were able to get away with not having seen all of the Phase I one movies and still having this movie make sense. However, the big question of the day is do you have to have seen Captain America: The First Avenger before seeing The Winter Soldier or is having seen The Avengers enough? My answer actually would be you do have to watch The First Avenger for The Winter Solider to make perfect sense. Can you be entertained without? Sure. But some sequences won't have the same emotional impact if you haven't because this movie does connect with Captain's past.

Moving forward, the story line of this movie is focused heavily around S.H.I.E.L.D. In fact, that is pretty much the whole movie. While Thor, Iron Man, and the Hulk have all gone their separate ways, Captain America has decided to stay and work with S.H.I.E.L.D. He has really nothing better to do because he doesn't have a home to go back to. While with S.H.I.E.L.D., Captain starts off struggling a bit with his exact role as he tries to fit into the modern society. Quickly, though, that begins to matter less because as it turns out S.H.I.E.L.D. gets compromised and we thus begin this surprisingly intricate story that is of course centered around this mysterious character called the Winter Soldier. Yes, there are a ton of different characters in this movie, but for most of the movie, our trio of heroes is Captain America, Black Widow, and newcomer Falcon.

There are a lot of twists and turns in this movie and I really enjoyed following it. It made it different than your typical superhero movie. However, if there was anything about this movie that I would be a bit nit-picky with it is the fact that along with these many twists and turns, the movie tried to surprise its audience several times. And while I thoroughly enjoyed the story, I was not surprised at all. I was kinda hoping that it would at least throw a minor curveball. But oh well. No tears shed here. I was entertained from start to finish. What really made it all work was the chemistry between are lead trio. Captain, Black Widow, and Falcon were just plain perfect. All three were funny at the right times. While this wasn't a comedy, there were a lot of one-liners thrown in perfectly that just had me cracking up. When the movie got serious, all three were also completely boss. And of course, they worked perfectly as a team.

The acting in the movie was great. The action in the movie was a ton of fun. The characters and the story were well-written. The interaction between Captain America and the Winter Soldier was perfect. Overall this was just a fantastic movie from start to finish. Before I end, I want to mention three things/people that I think stole the show. The first is Captain America's shield. In the first two movies with Captain America, the shield was a cool weapon. But in this, oh my goodness. Captain did so many things with that shield and it made the shield possibly the best superhero weapon in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The second is Scarlett Johansson. I liked Black Widow before and I certainly have always liked Scarlett in whatever she does, but in this movie she took Black Widow to the next level. Before this movie, Black Widow was just an interesting side character. Now she has become one of my favorite characters in the whole Marvel Cinematic Universe, if not my actual favorite. And third and final is Robert Redford. I'm not going to tell you his role in the movie because it's supposed to be a bit of a surprise. But I will say that Robert Redford is easily one of the best actors of all time and Marvel bringing him in for this movie was an excellent decision.

Now if I'm going to quickly rank all the movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe without including this movie, it would be as follows: 1- The Avengers; 2- Iron Man; 3- Iron Man 3; 4- Thor; 5- The Incredible Hulk; 6- Thor: The Dark World; 7- Captain America: The First Avenger; 8- Iron Man 2. How does Captain America: The Winter Soldier fit into all this? Of course this ranking could change with time. But for now, I will boldly put it right into second place. No, it's not as good as The Avengers, but I will say that it is the best of Phase II thus far and the best solo movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. My official grade for the movie is a 9/10.

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