Marvel's iconic super hero Captain America is barreling back on to the big screen this weekend with his first sequel, Captain America: The Winter Soldier. His first solo adventure in the modern world is a white knuckled political thrill ride. It will also likely go down as one of the best films Marvel Studios has offered thus far.
From the very beginning of the movie, which includes no opening credit sequence, it catches us up with Captain America or Steve Rogers, played by Chris Evans. He's still adjusting to the modern world, keeping a list of things he needs to do to help bring him up to speed. While running, Steve meets another war veteran, played by Anthony Mackey. The two start up a conversation and become instant friends.
Shortly after, Rogers is called to a meeting with S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Nick Fury. He tells Rogers about a new project dubbed "Insight." It's a plan that would utilize three massive warships linked to spy satellites designed to eliminate potential threats. It draws striking similarities between the high concerns of drones, the N.S.A. and our personal privacy in the modern world. It's also a plan that Captain America is very much against.
From the moment Steve finds out about Insight, trouble follows. Captain America soon becomes a wanted man by the very organization that employs him. Steve realizes he has to go underground, and does so with the help of Natasha Romanoff, or the Black Widow from The Avengers, excellently portrayed by Scarlett Johansson.
Chris Evans proves even more so in this latest film that he truly has what it takes to portray Captain America. While he did a great job in the first film, he even further shows off the true power of the super hero in the sequel. There is a scene at the beginning of the movie where Rogers has to take out a crew of pirates and save the passengers on the ship. He plows through enemies like a wrecking ball. You can truly feel the bone crunching hits these pirates take. His shield is also utilized much more throughout the movie, showing just how much damage it can really do.
The title character of the sequel, the Winter Soldier, is another big highlight. I won't go into who the character is, though if you have read the comics, you would already know. The character comes off as a truly scary threat for Captain America. He is relentless in his attacks, and it is almost immediately clear that this villain just might have a serious shot at taking out Rogers. He comes off like the terminator of the Marvel series, and other than Loki, is the best villain seen so far in the Marvel franchise.
Scarlett Johansson truly shines in this movie as well. While the Black Widow had some great scene stealing moments throughout The Avengers, she has much more to do this time around. Johansson is more or less the co-star of this new sequel, perhaps deserving her name in the title. She shows just how strong of a character Black Widow can be, while also giving a glimpse of her clouded past.
Everyone else in the movie is great as well, with Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury getting a lot more to do. Robert Redford's addition as Alexander Pierce only adds more class to this excellent cast, playing a senior leader within S.H.I.E.L.D. Anthony Mackie does a great job as Sam Wilson, AKA Falcon, providing a genuine sense of camaraderie for Captain America, who is still struggling to fit in the modern world.
Another big highlight from the movie are the action scenes and special effects. It is obvious that Anthony and Joe Russo know how to handle action, which is a very welcome surprise considering most of their work has been in television. The two are known for directing episodes of Community and Arrested Development. In fact, the last movie the pair directed was the not so great comedy, You, Me and Dupree, which starred Matt Dillon and Owen Wilson. Most of the scenes are shot with practical effects, with CGI brought in when the Reliquaries are launched. It is a very welcome sight in an age were CGI effects feel like they are done to death.
While Captain America: The Winter Soldier is certainly a great action film, and possibly the best Marvel Studios movie has made so far, there are a couple of parts that may drag for some. Some of the exposition can get a little long and drawn out. Still, it's a small complaint for a movie that does such a great job of entertaining.
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