Feature | Lights, Camera, Action! – Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Movie Review)

By Freda Cooper 25.03.2014 3

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Captain America: The Winter Soldier (UK Rating: 12A)

It is Spring, and that means only one thing at the cinema:  blockbusters. While it's something of a warm-up act for the summer, there's still some biggies on the way over the next few weeks - Muppets Most Wanted (28 March), biblical epic Noah and animation Rio 2 (both on 4 April), and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (18 April). Plus, one other, which flies in this Friday (28 March), as well - Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Starting pretty much where Captain America: The First Avenger finished, the film has Cap (Chris Evans) back in his Steve Rogers persona, and trying to adjust to life in the modern world, while still protecting the world by working for SHIELD. When his boss is assassinated, and a one-time comrade returns as an enemy, though, he's back to his duties as Captain America, fighting to save everybody - especially when the person behind his new adversaries appears to come from inside SHIELD itself…

Image for Feature | Lights, Camera, Action! – Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Movie Review)

With the odds stacked against him like that, Cap needs some help, and it comes in the familiar form of The Black Widow/Natasha (Scarlett Johansson), plus a new ally, The Falcon (Anthony Mackie), who starts out as his running partner and has a neat line in music to help the superhero get up-to-date. As well as having a pretty handy set of wings, he also brings some much-needed wit to his scenes with Cap. He may be a superhero, but he scores a zero in the sense of humour stakes.

Not that the characters matter much, because Captain America: The Winter Soldier is, unsurprisingly, action, action, action all the way - and it's action of a very superior nature. First rate CGI and 3-D combine for heart pounding set pieces, and they come in quick succession, with just enough time in between to draw breath. Some of them are truly spectacular; one of the earliest, involving the attempted kidnap of Cap's boss, Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson), sets the style to the extent that it's hard to imagine that the film has anything better to offer…but it does. Curiously, the residents of the futuristic Washington, where the action takes place, seem almost immune to the mind-boggling goings-on around them; when Cap is being pursued along one carriageway of the highway, the cars on the other one don't even slow down. No rubber-necking on SHIELD's territory, then.

Image for Feature | Lights, Camera, Action! – Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Movie Review)

The entire film is made to be viewed in 3-D, and, while it certainly enhances the high-octane action, it does little or nothing for the remainder of the film; the interiors wouldn't lose anything from being in good ol' 2-D. That said, this is a film that needs to be seen on the big screen to get the full effect; waiting for the inevitable DVD will only result in a big let-down, somewhere close to the one that accompanied the release of Gravity in the same format.

With action as king, and characters playing second, if not third, fiddle, acting isn't exactly a priority, so it's as good as it needs to be - no more, no less. There are, however, a couple of exceptions - Samuel L Jackson, and Robert Redford as SHIELD's top man. They make great sparring partners - Jackson is on especially good form - and there are times when it seems they're handing out acting lessons to the younger members of the cast.

Image for Feature | Lights, Camera, Action! – Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Movie Review)

A word of advice for Marvel newbies: the film is peppered with references to the previous Captain America film and others in the Marvel franchise, so, while it's not essential to have seen the others, it's a help. Grabbing the DVD of Cap's previous outing should fill in the gaps, either before or after seeing this one. That said, the film stands up well enough on its own, but being left out of all the 'in' references and jokes is never a nice feeling.

[score=9]Captain America: The Winter Soldier is seriously good entertainment.  Better than that, it's well made seriously good entertainment. It sets the standard for the other big films due out over the next few weeks, and any non-Marvel fans going to see it can't fail to be converted in double-quick time.

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Comments

I didn't read the review (sorry -  just avoiding any and all potential spoilers - haven't even seen a trailer), but I am wicked excited to see this movie.

I'm also interesting in seeing the tie in with "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." I've been intentionally avoiding reading anything, but I've gotten hints that the two are tied together much more than the tie-in with "Thor: The Dark World"

If you do see it, don't forget to stay till the end of the credits.


Oh, and:


I'm really interested in the Guardians of the Galaxy as well.  I liked what I saw in the trailer.

I finally got round to watching this at the weekend and thoroughly enjoyed it! Much better than the first one, and the mid- and post-credits scenes were as intriguing as ever.

I kind of liked how it didn't always focus just on Captain America, though, fleshing out other key characters in the Marvel world.

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