April 3, 2014 by Vinnie Leduc
Winter is coming… in two big ways this weekend. But before you get ready for the long-awaited return of HBO’s Game of Thrones Sunday night, you really should consider checking out the movie that’s kicking off the summer blockbuster season first. Captain America: The Winter Soldier isn’t just a great superhero flick; it’s one of the best Marvel movies so far.
Color me surprised because even after a repeat viewing, I’m still in the minority that did not embrace The First Avenger. Despite a robust heart that wooed underdogs worldwide, The Cap’s origin story was mediocre at best and suffered from corny dialogue, scant action, and unimpressive visual effects.
The Winter Soldier was pretty much the opposite of all that to me. No underdog tale, but a great S.H.I.E.L.D. chapter that you’d watch again. At worst, the corn-free one-liners may be occasionally off target, but they’re not cringe-inducing at all. Abundant action, almost all of which had me holding my breath at some point. And as for the spectacular special effects, they’re on par with those of The Avengers.
Yes, it’s that good. Ever since the first trailer promised us such an awesome adventure, we’ve been licking our chops to see the next Captain America motion picture and even named it our #3 most anticipated movie of the year. By the end of 2014, the film will probably be honored once again because both as another entry into the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe and as a standalone action popcorn flick, The Winter Soldier earns every bit of hype.
Marvel fans will love how critical this movie is to the popular superhero umbrella, and they’ll appreciate all the cool ways that The Winter Soldier revisits The First Avenger. As usual, Chris Evans nails his crown-jewel character as government super-soldier Captain America. His primary adversary, played by Sebastian Stan in the subtitular role, is definitely a worthy and bad-ass one.
Don’t worry; they both deliver. So for now, forget the two dudes you’ve already known from the movie’s title. Captain America: The Winter Soldier succeeds so well beyond these two important characters by giving its supporting cast a lot to work with. Because Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) get major dedicated screen time, it’s almost like a mini-Avengers movie.
On top of those Avengers vets, the film also features strong performances from Anthony Mackie, Robert Redford, Frank Grillo, Emily VanCamp, and Cobie Smulders, all of whom play characters in S.H.I.E.L.D. And because S.H.I.E.L.D. is a top government agency that may have been infiltrated by moles on our very own soil, The Winter Soldier further resonates with casual moviegoers itching for some cerebral stimulation while they get their summer machine-gun fix.
Viewers who couldn’t care less about Marvel’s intricate comic-books-turned-blockbuster-movies world will get that macho fix and more. In one of the trailers, Falcon asks, “How do we know the good guys from the bad guys?” The Cap replies, “If they’re shooting at you, they’re bad.” That’s all that these viewers need to know, too, for the action is fast and furious.
With a car chase that’s superior to any of those in Need For Speed and some jawdropping violence that made me question the PG-13 rating for a moment, the exhilarating action that anchors The Winter Soldier is some of the best ever to be set in our nation’s capital. The conspiracy thriller also incorporates today’s modernized military threats and global political climate more accessibly and less ridiculously than last year’s G.I. Joe sequel did.
Discounting the money-burning and nearly useless 3D throughout the entire movie and a few weak parts towards the end, all of this together helps make this Marvel movie a thrill ride that most people will enjoy from start to finish, including a double stinger during and after the credits. When it comes to blockbusters, the summer season is officially here with The Winter Soldier, and when it comes to the Avengers, the first one is now the best one. Step aside, Iron Man. Move over, Thor. He’s the Captain now.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier gets 4.5 out of 5 stars.