Captain America The Winter Soldier Blu-Ray Review
I Like Captain America
I missed Captain America The Winter Soldier (Cap 2, if you will) at the cinema so, but kept hearing great things about it.
So, determined not to miss out, I pre-ordered the Blu-ray from Amazon and it arrived last week.
I enjoyed it so much that I watched it twice in one weekend, virtually forcing my wife to watch it on second viewing.
For me, this is one of the best in the series and I am very, very happy to have it in my collection.
I have written before how much I like the Avengers movies.
There's something about them that has really captured my imagination and I keep watching them again and again.
And I really like the Captain, despite that fact that I'm British, not American.
I don't know whether it is his old fashioned ideas, or his all-around heroism that reels me in, but I do like his moves.
The way he can run and jump and knock seven bells out of every enemy he meets, just gets me going every time.
And he does an awful lot of that in The Winter Soldier.
The First Avenger
The Captain's first outing was fun, and like Thor, was refreshing and just a bit different to the rest of the series.
It was eclipsed in my mind only by the fact that I still preferred Iron Man and Thor.
Chris Evans did a good job turning the former skinny kid into comic book material, but although I enjoyed the WWII sections, they never seemed to be quite long enough.
I always found myself wanting to see more and to find out what the Captain could really do.
We certainly saw more of that in Avengers Assemble, with some humourous moments, to boot, but Cap 2 takes the character to a new level.
Winter Soldier also raises the stakes for the Marvel Universe story as a whole and as I am writing this, I am thinking that it is the best standalone movie in the series.
I may have to revise my views later, but for now, I'll let it stand.
I'm that impressed.
Winter Soldier Movie Poster
Agents of Shield
If you've been watching Marvel's Agents Of Shield TV series, then you may already know some of what I am going to say.
I got to a certain point in the TV episodes when I realised that to continue watching might spoil this movie and now that I have seen it, I think I was right.
On starting up with the Agents again (I have the whole season recorded) I discovered that it picked up just where Cap 2 finished, so I had stopped in exactly the right place.
The movie brings Cap into much closer contact with the Shield Agents than he has ever had before and believe me, this is a very good thing.
Is also takes him into the modern world while paying homage to his character, his background and his values.
From a hostage rescue on a beleaguered ship to the explosive ending, there is plenty of action and mystery to keep us entertained.
Director Fury finally gets to play a truly major part in the story and his interaction with Cap and the others is good to see.
Scarlett Johansen is a little softer (not much though) as Black Widow and works well with the main man.
For some reason though, I couldn't quite get my head round her new hair style, which doesn't seem to suit her as well.
My main problem in attempting to relate anything about the plot is that there is very little I can say without throwing massive spoilers your way.
What I will say, is that it involves a conspiracy and that the theme is handled very well, all told.
The opening scenes get straight into the action we've been craving, but link nicely with the rest of the story in some unexpected ways.
From there, lots of things seem to go downhill fast for our heroes, and I found myself asking the question (along with the main characters), "why is this happening?"
Very quickly, Captain Rogers and Nick Fury get into a situation where they are unsure who to trust and we viewers are very much in the same boat.
This sense of mystery and suspense successfully turns an action movie into a spy thriller, with plenty of twists and turns.
It also manages to play on the "surveillance society" paranoia so prevalent in the news at the moment and does it better than the video game Watchdogs, in my opinion.
I did suspect one character of being a traitor, pretty much from the beginning.
It turned out that I was right, but I wasn't prepared for some of the other revelations, one of which was a real shock.
I actually drew a sudden breath and said out loud, "no!" in my surprise - I totally did not see that coming.
...of course, I can't tell you what it was!
If you've not seen it yet, I would recommend that you avoid reading anything about it, online or off, because almost every article I have checked since spills the beans in one way or another - you have been warned.
What did you think of Captain America 2?
All American Action
Of course, just having a great story would still not be enough to appease Marvel fans, Captain America fans, or even superhero fans in general.
You'll be pleased to know then, that in the action stakes, Winter Soldier won't let you down.
Cap is constantly "doing his stuff" with his super-human strength, his agility and of course, his famous shield (no not the Agents, that round metal thing with the star on it!).
Chris Evans looks suitably buff for the role of Steve Rogers and must have done some serious weight training to get in shape.
He punches, kicks, jumps, somersaults, bashes and ricochets his shield around with aplomb and it all flows so smoothly, it looks completely natural.
Which I find slightly odd because, despite being a hard nosed scientist, I have no problem watching his shield defy the laws of physics left, right and centre.
Instead of my mind going, "that's just not possible", every time it bounces off 3 enemies and returns to his hand, I say "that's so cool!"
Not to disappoint, Agent Romanov (Scarlett Johansen) also joins in the fray as you would expect, with her trademark flips, gadgets and guns.
All in all, its fast moving, fun and very satisfying.
The only small criticism I can think of is that there is a lot of hand to hand fighting, which may make it seem more violent than some other Marvel films, depending on your sensibilities.
As a consequence, you may want to keep younger children from viewing it.
That's not to say that the movie is perfect, and there are one or two areas that I think could have been better.
When thinking about it after the first viewing, I managed to identify a possibly fatal plot flaw and/or continuity error between Cap 1 and this iteration.
However, I will have to go back to watch the first one to confirm it ...and even then, I still won't be able to tell you on this page...
Another thing is that they introduce us to a new character, "Falcon".
Now, I liked him very much and I thought he was a cool dude.
He fitted in nicely and even brought a few surprises of his own, but the inevitable question I have to ask as a result is:
Where on earth was Hawkeye?
With Iron Man 3 following on from Avengers Assemble in the way that it did, I kept asking, "where were the Avengers?" at the end of it.
In Winter Soldier, it sort of makes sense that they can't get hold of some of the others (you'll see why when you watch it).
After all, Bruce Banner/the Hulk is most likely on the other side of the world and Thor is on another planet, but Hawkeye has no such excuse as far as I am aware.
I find myself thinking, if my best buddy was in trouble, wouldn't I do something about it?
It is rumoured that Hawkeye will return for Captain America 3, so maybe they'll explain things better then.
Notable By His Absence
Up There With The Avengers
So how good is it?
For thrills and spills, it's definitely up there with the Avengers, as far as I'm concerned.
The only area where I feel it doesn't quite match up is in the humour.
Don't get me wrong, there is plenty of humour here, much of it from Black Widow this time round.
It's just that some of the lines fall a bit flat, not because they are bad, but because there is just so much going on that it's sometimes difficult to pick them out from the rest of the dialog.
Two or three times we had only just been presented with a new twist, which my brain was still wrapping itself around, when I realised that someone had made a joke.
This meant that I missed the point for a second or two, by which time, it wasn't quite so amusing.
It could be a timing issue or it may just be me. Hopefully, it means that I'll get more out of it on repeating viewings.
The post credits scene is worth waiting for and is a bit longer than some with yet another new character.
New characters seem to be appearing thick and fast, so I hope the producers don't overreach themselves.
However, they are clearly hooking us in for more to come in this storyline and at this point, I'm very much looking forward to it.
Bring it on!
© 2014 Tim Bader