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Re: Captain America: The Winter Soldier - User Review Thread! - SPOILERS! - Part 1
Alright, as promised, here is my review of the movie:
I cannot praise this movie enough. I'm a lifelong Captain America fan. I felt Captain America: The First Avengers was the best phase 1 solo film, but this sequel beats the first installment in everyway. It is also the first phase 2 movie I felt to clearly do so. Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World both have solid arguments on why the first installments in those franchises were better. That argument I simply don't feel exists between Captain America: The First Avengers and Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
In his first outings, Chris Evans played a Captain America that was stil learning about the power of the suit and work toward that command that we all know the character for in the written pages. This is the first film in which Evans is truly dominant for the entire film. Evans was on his A-game this movie. He had great chemistry with the entire cast, and you could feel his pain as the journey in this film became more and more personal. It is times like this, I am glad that I always supported his casting as Steve Rogers. I don't think we could ask for a better Captain America.
One thing that sets this sequel apart from many others is that the supporting cast of characters for Cap's world needed to be introduced. It was almost like starting at square 1 with him, while the Thor and Iron Man franchises have had their supporting characters set in stone for a while. Bringing Black Widow into Cap's inner circle in this one was a brilliant move. Evans has never been better before this movie, and same can be said for Scarlett. She and Chris work very well off each other, and for the first time, we see a bit of who Black Widow truly is. I also need to give credit to Anthony Mackie. Sam Wilson was another tremendous addition to the film. While Cap was lost for much of the journey, Sam Wilson helped give the movie a lot of heart and soul.
There is also much to discuss in the way of villains in this movie. We have never seen Robert Redford play a villain much in his career. He was also a well known good guy actor. That said, Alexander Pierce was a great character. He was a master manipulator, and early on, he nearly sucks you into the illusion that he is on the right side. Brock Rumlow gave us a solid tease for the Crossbones we will be getting soon, and I am excited for it! But, the stand out villain in the movie is the title villain, obviously. For much of the movie Sebastian Stan doesn't say a single word, but the Winter Soldier was frightening. Great physical match for Cap, and totally ruthless. Stan also does a great job at showing us his inner struggle as his memories come back. I won't agree that he is the best developed villain in the MCU. That honor goes to Loki. But, I do think they did a much better job at developing him than Marvel has done in many of their films. There is so much for comic book fans to geek about in this movie in regard to the villains. From the twists and turns in SHIELD's chaos, and Arnim Zola showing up in one of the best scenes of the movie, the threats of this movie were very well chosen and developed.
This is also the most different Marvel film in regard to tone. Marvel is well known for comedic elements in their films, and even many have complained about the humor in the more recent Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World. Of all Marvel Studios films, this was by far the most serious. The comedy is still there, but it is heavily downplayed. I find this funny because many felt when the guys responsible for Arrested Development and Community were going to do this movie, most thought it would devolve into Cap jokes for 2 hours. That worry can be laid to rest. The Russos set a serious tone, serious stakes, and serious consequences. They deserve credit for making one of the MCU's best movies on their first try! Adding to the suspense is Henry Jackman's very subtle, yet very eerie score.
Thematically, this film feels like a brother to Iron Man 3. Only far more successful. Iron Man 3 sought to make a theme about the enemy we don't see manipulating us through false imagery. Similarly, the Russos develop a theme around the idea of moles manipulating everyone through fear. The big difference is, Killian was an outsider manipulating the people inside. In this movie, the direct threat has infiltrated us from within. The film brings into question how much freedom we should give up for security, as well as showing how easy in the digital age it is to find out anything about someone smart enough or with proper connections want. This also palys into Cap's man out of time theme. Many thought the Russos would just use tons of Whedon-esque pop-culture and humor to show Cap's displacement. Instead, the Russos use Cap's virtues and beliefs as the tool to show that he is out of time. Cap is fighting for an organization doing questionnable things under the guise of safety, but he sees the danger in doing this. It was a brilliant way to utilize that element of Cap's story.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is by far the best solo film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it even rivals The Avengers in quality. The Avengers has that fanboy, gushing factor about seeing our favorite heroes come together, but Captain America: The Winter Soldier has perhaps the best script for a Marvel film to date. It is a really hard call for me between the two. I need to mull it over more. Everything about this film is superbly crafted. The film moves at meticulous pace and the story/themes of the film are the best examples of story Marvel Studios has done to date. I would even say, I felt the movie was better than Brubaker's story, and that is VERY high praise! Bravo Russos! I'm very glad they will be getting another shot at Captain America. They deserve it.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier - 5/5
Rating MCU films: Iron Man - 4/5, The Incredible Hulk - 4/5, Iron Man 2 - 3/5, Thor - 4.5/5, Captain America: The First Avenger - 5/5, The Avengers - 5/5, Iron Man 3 - 4/5, Thor: The Dark World - 4/5, Captain America: The Winter Soldier - 5/5, Guardians of the Galaxy - 4.5/5
My review of THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2
, X-Men: Days of Future Past