By Mike Dyer, Senior Writer
New to theaters this month is the latest installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” is the follow up to “Captain America: The First Avenger” and the second film to see WWII veteran Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) adjusting to life in present day society following the Captain’s involvement in 2012’s “The Avengers.” Packed with stellar casting, state of the art CGI, non-stop action all wrapped around smart script, this sequel outshines its predecessor on every front while cleverly tying in with it. Almost immediately upon its release it already has discussion going on in the fan communities as to whether or not it is a better film than “The Avengers.”
Set a couple of years after the events in “The Avengers” Steve Rogers is now an operative working in the international security agency SHIELD. Partnered with the infamous Black Widow (Scarlett Johanssen), Captain America begins to question policies within the organization he is now working for. After a confluence of events, Captain Rogers finds himself on the run from the organization that he has served faithfully for the past two years. Teaming up with the Black Widow, Natasha Romanoff, and his new friend Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) the trio are soon to discover that the leak in SHIELD goes back a lot farther than they realize.
Directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” calls back to the great insider espionage films of 1960’s and 70’s. If not for the Captain’s Superhuman abilities one could have a hard time not comparing it to the Jason Bourne franchise as the films pacing keeps you at the edge of your seat building in tension to a twist that I honestly didn’t see coming. The results of which will have ramifications that will no doubly affect the direction of Marvel’s top grossing franchise going forward.
Casting is first rate and includes Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L Jackson and Cobie Smulders returning from earlier installments of the franchise. New to this Universe is Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson better known as “The Falcon” in the comics and Robert Redford as Alexander Pierce. Redford’s performance is easily memorable, but blends in well with the rest of the cast as they all hold their own alongside the living Hollywood legend. Seeing Redford in a film like this is one that easily raised some eyebrows at first, but once you realize how smart this film is you will understand why he was cast. Particularly fun to watch is Anthony Mackie’s take on the Falcon as his sense of comedic timing not only provides comic relief, but act as a grounding force for Evans’ character. Accompanying the cast is the film’s original score by Henry Jackman. Proving memorable in parts, and climaxing in the action sequences Jackman utilizes a sound that at times is unconventional for a super hero theme, however adds another layer of suspense to an already brilliantly executed story.
There is a reason why this franchise has got increasingly better and better as it has gone along. “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” is no exception. It is a film that proves the legitimacy of the characters that make Marvel films memorable. What stands out about this film is that it proves the executives at Marvel Studios like Kevin Feige are not afraid to take chances while giving these out of this world characters realistic settings to play in. When you combine the cast, story, action and fantastic special affects you get a film rich in character and charm that in my opinion proves for a better film going experience than “The Avengers”. “The Winter Soldier” is the classic popcorn eating summer blockbuster mixed in with the political thriller and ultimately proves to be complex and rewarding. It is truly a film that the whole family can get something out of and one that has set a new standard in how superhero movies should be done.