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'Captain America The Winter Soldier' may be Marvel's best solo flick to date

Captain America The Winter Soldier

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Release date: April 4, 2014

Captain America (Chris Evans) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) don't know who they can trust in CAPTAIN AMERICA THE WINTER SOLDIER.
Captain America (Chris Evans) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) don't know who they can trust in CAPTAIN AMERICA THE WINTER SOLDIER.DISNEY

Directed by: Anthony Russo and Joe Russo

Written by: Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely

Starring: Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Anthony Mackie, and Robert Redford

Official website: Marvel.com/CaptainAmerica

Captain America returns to the big screen in his first solo movie since he teamed up with The Avengers a few years back and saved the world from Thor's brother and an alien invasion. The good news is the movie is not only better than the first solo Cap flick, but it just may be Marvel's best to date -- and there is no bad news.

Since we last saw him in action in 2012's "The Avengers", Cap is still trying to catch up with the world that has changed so much around him. Everything he stood for has changed, the world has changed. So has that fine line between right and wrong, as well as what our Government is willing to do to protect its people from threats.

But Cap isn't just battling corrupt government agents in this flick. The bad guys have a new weapon to take on S.H.I.E.L.D.'s greatest hero in The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), a metal armed assassin whose true identity reaches right back into Steve Rogers' own past and shakes the foundation of what is left of his fragile world.

Chris Evans has made the role of Captain America his the same way RDJ is Iron Man. He doesn't have the same flamboyance as Downey Jr., but he embodies the good, old fashioned boy scout characteristics you would expect from a super hero dubbed "Captain America". He not only has that boyish charm that separates him from the cold world around him, but he brings it in his action scenes. The fight scenes and the way he uses his shield are worth the price of admission alone.

No Iron Man. No Thor. But Cap has plenty of help. Returning to the Marvel Cinematic Universe is Scarlett Johansson as The Black Widow and Samuel L. Jackson as S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury. They're as good as always, but this time they are given time to slow down and allow their characters to grow and actually feel like real people. Johansson and Evans have good chemistry that toes that border between love interest and deep friendship. Jackson is also allowed to let Fury become more of a man, instead of just an eye patch barking orders.

Joining the fun are Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson, aka The Falcon. Then there is Robert Redford as Alexander Pierce, a high ranking member of S.H.I.E.L.D. It's an odd movie to see a guy of Redford's pedigree, but he's a welcome addition to an already solid cast. There's a few other surprises that fans will love. So pay attention. Look and listen carefully.

Directors Anthony and Joe Russo take over directing duties on the sequel. Despite the fact their resume highlights include directing episodes of "Arrested Development" and "Community", they are more than up to the challenge of delivering a big budget popcorn flick. The brothers seemingly have no problem handling the action, which is incredible to watch, but the film never steps out of the boundaries of reality, making it feel like Marvel's most grounded movie to date, even if it is populated with super heroes doing unbelievable things.

"Captain America: The Winter Soldier" is not only a great comic book movie but it's a thrilling and thought-provoking political thriller. It's hands down the best movie of Marvel's Phase Two and their best solo outing, but it very well could be the best action movie in the past five years.

And, as always, be sure to stay after the credits for not one, but two extra scenes, one which sets up Marvel's "Avengers: Age of Ultron".

Running time: 2 hours 16 mins

Rating: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence, gunplay and action throughout

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