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Captain America: The Winter Soldier – Review
March 25, 2014
April 2012. This was the month that drastically altered the landscape of the superhero film universe thanks to the release of Marvel’s behemoth showpiece The Avengers. Bringing together a mouth-watering cast of superstar actors and characters, the film smashed box office records similar to the Hulk’s ability to smash up…well, pretty much anything. It currently ranks 3rd in the list of the highest grossing movies of all time, having shattered the £1 billion mark, and proves that quantity doesn’t lack quality, holding a 92% fresh rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.
Having shared the screen with his superhero cohorts in one of the most successful and well-loved blockbusters ever, Chris Evans’ Captain America returns for his third outing under the directorial stewardship of Anthony and Joe Russo (Community) with familiar faces in tow such as Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders). Described as a 70’s style, espionage thriller, Captain America: The Winter Soldier follows Captain Steve Rodgers as he struggles to adapt to 21st century America, battling agents and betrayals from inside his own organisation, SHIELD, and coming face to face with ghosts from the past.
Swapping World War 2 for the age of the iPhone was always going to provide big shift in tone for the follow-up to Captain America: The First Avenger, but the Russos handle it well. The “fish out of water” angle is explored but never shoved down our throats, instead expertly integrated into the plot that sees Steve question who he can trust, if anyone, within SHIELD and the government to whom he had pledged his loyalty and service. The Russos and screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely successfully avoid the pitfalls that trapped last year’s Superman revival Man of Steel. Steve Rodgers is not Bruce Wayne, he has no demons prowling the darker corridors of his mind, instead his conflict is always external, with outside influences constantly challenging his patriotic and idealistic beliefs. He is the ultimate good guy, much like Clark Kent/ Superman, and the Captain America team never forget this.
Like most of Marvel’s previous outings, the film is filled with light-hearted and tender moments of character interaction along with some very funny exchanges that help counterbalance the barrage of explosions and fighting. Robert Redford and Anthony Mackie are both welcome additions to the universe with the latter providing the Captain with a new sidekick (The Falcon) to help battle his old one, the returning Sebastian Stan transformed as the titular Winter Soldier. Fans of the comic book will not be disappointed by this famous villain’s big screen debut, providing an intriguing foil for The First Avenger both physically and mentally.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier will most certainly not disappoint the die-hard Marvel fans and has a lot to offer the casual cinema goer too, with a well-rounded story of conspiracy, betrayal, friendship and a sprinkle of romantic tension. Avoid the 3D version at all costs, it does its best to ruin almost every action set-piece, and be prepared for a few excited squeals from comic book fans sat next to you when Stephen Strange is name-dropped and the customary after-credits scenes roll around (which are worth sticking around for).
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is out in UK cinemas on Wednesday March 26th