CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER
MOVIE: **** (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: ***1/2 (out of 5)
Chris Evans as STEVE ROGERS
Samuel L. Jackson as NICK FURY
Scarlett Johansson as NATASHA ROMANOFF
Robert Redford as ALEXANDER PIERCE
Sebastian Stan as WINTER SOLDIER
Anthony Mackie as SAM WILSON
Cobie Smulders as MARIA HILL
Emily VanCamp as AGENT 13
Directed by: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
BY KEVIN CARR
I’m a bona fide fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so I’m pre-disposed to enjoy the movies as they roll out. (I’m sure one of these days there will be one I consider a stinker, but it has yet to happen.) However, of all the movies leading up to “The Avengers” in 2012, “Captain America: The First Avenger” was probably my least favorite, running neck and neck with the first “Thor.”
Last year, I found myself enjoying the hell out of “Thor: The Dark World,” and now with the “Captain America” sequel, I feel the same way. Both movies improved upon what they’d already laid out. Part of this was because they existed in a richer universe post-“Avengers.” However, the other reason both the sequels for “Thor” and “Captain America” are superior movies is that they didn’t have to deal with the humdrum origin story.
In “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” Steve Rogers finds himself a target of his own country. After stumbling upon a danger element inside S.H.I.E.L.D., Rogers also comes face-to-face with a mysterious super-assassin that has a connection to his past. Rogers goes on the run with Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) to investigate the mystery and to stop a powerful weapon, which could kill millions of people at once, from being deployed.
Where “Captain America: The First Avenger” had a more retro feel to it (which made sense, being that most of it took place in the 1940s), this one has a slicker, modern look to it. Directors Anthony and Joe Russo rely on a handheld camera, but they don’t rely on a shakycam. Instead, they deliver a down-to-earth, slightly unrefined look without falling into all the traps we normally see in handheld work.
“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” was one of the first massive hits of 2014, only recently being knocked from the top domestic grosser pedestal by Marvel’s other flick “Guardians of the Galaxy.” It is part of the reason that the first few months of 2014 will be remembered for having better films than the big tent pole summer season itself. But more than that, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” will be remembered for being a better film than its predecessor as well as being a strong action flicks that remind you what an optimistic superhero movie can be. (I’m looking at you, Zack Snyder.)
The bonus feature menu has some decent things on it, but it’s not as impressive as I have come to expect from the recent Marvel Blu-rays from Disney. There are the basic features, but it particularly lacking a Marvel short, which was always fun to tease other movies. Not including this on the disc is like not including a post-credit sequence in the movie itself. It is far from necessary, but its absence is a bit of a let-down.
The features that are there include three featurettes: “On the Front Line: An Inside Look at Captain America’s Battlegrounds” focusing on the action, “On Set With Anthony Mackie: Cut the Check!” which looks at the Marvel newcomer’s overused on-set catch phrase and “Steve Rogers’ Notebook” which is a neat look at the multicultural tinkering done for a minor prop in international releases.
Other features include deleted and extended scenes, a gag reel and an audio commentary featuring the directors and the screenwriters.