CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER Review; "The Best Marvel Solo Movie Yet"
Captain America: The Winter Soldier was released in the UK today ahead of its US debut on April 4th, and as you can see from the headline, I loved it! Hit the jump to read my review of the Marvel Studios sequel, but be warned, as there are some VERY minor spoilers ahead.
It should come as no surprise to learn that Captain America: The Winter Soldier is yet another triumph for Marvel Studios, and I don't think it's in the least bit unfair to declare it hands down the best Marvel solo movie yet. In fact, I would go so far to say that the sequel is up there with The Dark Knight in terms of quality and setting the benchmark for the genre moving forwards. In short, it's a resounding success on every level.
By now, you'll know that the movie is a loose adaptation of Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting's comic book arc of the same name, and as a huge fan of that storyline, I can say I was 100% satisfied with both the changes made and the similarities to the source material. Anthony and Joe Russo strike a perfect balance, and in the process deliver a movie with fight sequences which could rival The Raid: Redemption in terms of sheer thrills and exhiliration. As it turns out, the unexpected choice of these brothers to helm Captain America: The Winter Soldier was a genius decision, and the focus on action doesn't mean that the story suffers in any way. The return of a character from Steve's past will likely have you welling up, and the surprise return of another is immensely satisfying.
If there's only one area in which the sequel isn't quite as good as it should have been, it's with further explring The Winter Soldier's past. We do get a few very brief flashbacks which tell us enough so that we understand how he came to be, but a little bit more time spent on that might have helped to make his arc a little more satisfying. That's ultimately a very minor niggle though, and Sebastian Stan is superb in the role. As with Thor: The Dark World, there's very much a "To Be Continued..." type of ending here, so it's likely that we'll see an awful lot more of The Winter Soldier moving forwards anyway.
There's not a weak link to be found in the cast of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and Chris Evans is once again perfect as Steve Rogers. The new and familiar faces are all excellent, but Anthony Mackie and Frank Grillo really stand out. Even someone like Emily VanCamp (who only has a very small role as Agent 13) is great, and it's rare for a movie not to have any weak links, but a treat to not find any faults with any performances from such a large cast of actors. The fact that each of the characters in the movie are developed so well is also a major plus.
What's most impressive about Captain America: The Winter Soldier is just what a game changer it is for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The ramifications for Avengers: Age of Ultron are massive, while revelations about the past will leave you rewatching previous Marvel Studios movies in a whole new light. The score, special effects and every other aspect of the sequel are perfect, and it's just one of those movies you'll want to spend hours talking about afterwards and definitely deserving of a repeat viewing. Thematically, the movie is Marvel's most serious yet and those of you who didn't enjoy the humour from the past couple of solo outings will probably be glad to hear that. Of course, that's not to say it isn't fun and there are definitely some very humourous moments!
As always, be sure to stick around after the credits as the mid-credits scene is particularly interesting in regards to The Avengers sequel, and the second one perfectly sets up Captain America 3 (perhaps my most anticipated movie of the next couple of years after watching this today). I saw the sequel in regular old 2D and would definitely recommend that you do the same.
To put it simply, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the perfect Captain America movie, one of the best superhero movies of all-time and just about perfect in every respect. I can't wait to watch it again!
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