Of all the mainstream Marvel super heroes, Captain America is my most cherished. His first adventure was hands down my favorite of the Phase 1 films. The classic WWII setting and epic feel is what captured my fancy. It was like an Indiana Jones movie blended together with the comic book world. It makes perfect sense, as it was directed by a guy who cut his teeth working with Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. Although it doesn't have the same historic flavor as its predecessor, "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" still succeeds at being the second-best of all the Marvel movies up to now.
Captain America (Chris Evans) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) have continued to work for Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and S.H.I.E.L.D. after the events of "The Avengers." When it's discovered that the evil organization Hydra is still running strong and has infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D., Cap and Widow go rogue to help discover who the enemy plants are. They team up with the Falcon (Anthony Mackie) and find themselves confronting a powerful assassin named the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) as they embark on their mission.
Everything about "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" contrasts the hero's first movie. It takes place in the present day instead of the 1930s and 1940s. Cap has to deal with advanced technology versus the tanks and simple guns of the past. He's also immersed in a political world that's less cut and dry as it was in the good old days of World War II. The musical score is more modern and chaotic versus the symphonic patriotic-sounding orchestrations of the original.
I can't say that there are any real surprises in "Captain America: The Winter Soldier." It plays out exactly the way you think it will. The main villain is who you know it's going to be from the first sequence of the movie. However, it's still fun seeing everything unfold before you.
Whether it's predictable or not, it's nice to see a movie attempting to deliver a strong and complex storyline along with its over-the-top action sequences. "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" gets an "A" for effort across the board. I also give it props for being a game-changer. Things happen in it that will shake the foundations of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Marvel Cinematic Universe in general.
The addition of Falcon as one of Cap's sidekicks is a welcome one in the hands of actor Anthony Mackie. You can tell he's genuinely excited and honored to be a part of the Marvel movie world. He takes the part seriously and pours everything he's got into the role. It also helps that he doesn't wear a red jumpsuit with wings attached to it. His suit in "Captain American: The Winter Soldier" is much more advanced and modernized.
It's pretty obvious in "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" that they're setting up Scarlet Johansson's Black Widow character for her own film. I just can't see the idea ever getting off the ground. I could see her guest-starring in episodes of "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." where they explore her checkered past while she helps that team out on a few missions. I can't comprehend how the character could carry a full-length theatrical release.
The special effects and CGI in "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" look good for the most part. There are a couple scenes where human movements look a little sketchy. Overall, the real and the digitized blend well together.
"Captain America: The Winter Soldier" is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence, gunplay and action throughout. It also has some bad language sprinkled throughout. There's nothing here you wouldn't expect after seeing all the other Marvel movies.
As "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" came to a close, I found myself wanting more. I was already anticipating its follow-up and felt anxious knowing I'm going to have to wait another couple of years before getting some closure to the story it left open-ended. "The Avengers: Age of Ultron" will at least serve as an appetizer when it comes to our Star-Spangled hero. I want a third giant helping of the main course again, though!