Film Review – Captain America: The Winter Soldier

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Captain America (Chris Evans), Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson), Black Widow (Scarlett Johannson and new recruit Falcon (Anthony Mackie) face a new foe in the form of the Winter Soldier as terrorist organisation Hydra rears its ugly head in the most unlikely of places.

Another week, another Marvel superhero flick. The genre is walking a very well worn path by this point and many are starting to feel a little bit numb to its formula. Captain America: The Winter Soldier could well have been the straw that broke this series’ back, but fortunately there’s enough new and interesting in there to ensure Marvel’s stock remains as high as ever.

Captain America: The First Avenger, Cap’s origin story, took place in World War II, but naturally (considering what happened at the end of that film and in Avengers Assemble) we’re now in a modern day setting. And we have modern day themes as well. The Winter Soldier examines themes of privacy, intrusion, drones, and other similar ideas that feel incredibly relevant when you take a glance at the news of today.

The problem with having a modern day setting is that it removes one of the key elements that made the first film work: the period World War II setting. That’s not to say this film doesn’t work, but it feels a little less unique.

However, despite its current themes and setting, the film actually feels more akin to a 1970s spy or espionage thriller, or even a Connery/Moore era James Bond film at times. Stick the Cap in a tuxedo and you’ve got yourself a Bond film. Apart from the guy who has massive metal wings and can fly everywhere, obviously.

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That would be Sam Wilson, or Falcon (played by Anthony Mackie), who’s one of the new characters introduced in The Winter Soldier. Falcon is a decent addition and along with the inclusion of Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow as a main character completes an interesting and dynamic central trio.

Then there’s the Winter Soldier himself as the film’s central villain (or is he?). One aspect of the past few Marvel films where they’ve dropped the ball is with their villains, in that they just aren’t that villainous. Both Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World featured very weak villains, but they’ve upped the game somewhat here. The Winter Soldier is both menacing and also has an air of mystery surrounding him which adds up to a much more threatening villain than we’ve seen previously.

Much of The Winter Soldier is actually much slower paced and plot heavy than you’d expect from a Marvel film and this plays very much in its favour, although younger viewers may not appreciate this as much. However, true to form everything goes ballistic in the final third and we get the obligatory 20 minute action scene with everything being blown to smithereens. Obviously, with superhero films, this formula is the natural one to follow, but it would have been nice to stray from this for a change.

Whilst The Winter Soldier could, and perhaps should, have been the point where we tire of Marvel superhero films, it’s actually one of the stronger entries in the whole franchise that should see him have more equal footing alongside his super-peers when it comes to next year’s Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Pros

  • The Winter Soldier is an excellent villain
  • Interesting and more involved plot
  • Dynamic central trio of heroes

Cons

  • Final third a little too formulaic
  • Loses some of its identity with shift in time period from the first film

4 pigeons

4/5 pigeons

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38 thoughts on “Film Review – Captain America: The Winter Soldier

  1. Ewan M says:

    I certainly agree about that formulaicness (is that a word?) to the finale, but it feels to me like the wholesale destruction is kinda a backdrop to what’s really happening: the psychological conflict between Steve and the ‘Winter Soldier’. In either case, I didn’t really care or feel much about what was going on with the flying battleships. I’m also sort of hoping that some of its success (and I believe it has been commercially successful) means that its younger viewers do enjoy the change of pace and a bit more substantiveness to the world that’s been created. Or maybe they just think Chris Evans/Sebastian Stan/Anthony Mackie/Scarlett are hot. Who knows?

  2. theipc says:

    Nice work!! I liked this movie quite a bit!

  3. Natasha says:

    I really liked this movie. I thought the winter soldier rocked it. Good review :)

  4. I’m with you on this. The filmmaker’s take their time and allow the piece to breath, which is a huge benefit. Some great and very relevant themes going too. One of the better Marvel offerings! Great review Chris.

    Adam.

  5. An excellent post for an outstanding flick! Damn right, the Winter Soldier is an insanely badass villain. Keep up the good work, my friend :).

  6. Tom says:

    I think I belong to a select few people who weren’t completely taken by Cap’n. I think it’s more so the comic I have little interest in, rather than the successful way they have adapted the story for the modern movies. All the same, splendid write-up man. You made some good points that make me think twice about it.

  7. ruth says:

    Welcome back Chris!! Hope your shoulder is getting better and better, man.

    Glad you love this. I love the espionage theme and having Redford it definitely harkens back to his 70s spy movies. I don’t mind the slower pace at all actually. Ha..ha.. interesting that you mention this could be a Bond film, I didn’t think of that but I guess it could.

    • Thanks Ruth! It is indeed getting better thanks although I’m still in a sling and having to catch up with work I missed whilst I was off. Probably not fully back yet but hopefully I’ll be around a bit more.

      I really liked how this took a slightly different approach and seemed more like an old-school thriller. It definitely made it more interesting, which is important as we’ve had so many of these films now!

  8. Gene says:

    Great point in contrasting the villains between this, Iron Man 3 and Thor 2, you’re totally right. The Winter Soldier was a match with Capt. America punch for punch, and I never felt that way in those other films. Nice review!

    • Thanks Gene! Yeah a lot of the villains we’ve had have been a bit lacklustre but the Winter Soldier was a real match for Cap and the fact he was so mysterious made him a lot more interesting than some of the other villains.

  9. CMrok93 says:

    Is Marvel ever going to fail? Maybe. But not any time soon and this is a clear example as to why that is. Good review Chris.

  10. “Loses some of its identity with shift in time period from the first film”
    Yep, my main problem.

    But the action was just sooo damn good.

  11. Always great to read your stuff Chris. You and I are in total agreement. I think it’s great that the oldest Marvel hero is the subject of its most prescient movie.

  12. keith7198 says:

    Loved the review! This movie blew me away. I ate all of it up. Loved Winter Soldier as a villain. I also loved the old school feel to the action. Didn’t think I would say this but it’s my favorite film of the year so far.

  13. Nice review Chris. As you mention in your intro, I’m one of the people getting tired of the Marvel formula. Although I’m not about to rush out and see it, I’ve heard enough positive things about this one though to give it a try. Glad to hear it has more plot and substance than some of the other Marvel movies too.

  14. Mark Walker says:

    Great review bud! I’m one who is certainly tired of these superhero flicks taking over our screens at this time but I am strangely drawn to the Capt. America movies. Still not seen the first one but I will get round to them eventually.

  15. sati says:

    Great write up! I enjoyed the movie but I didn’t think it was all that great. I agree with your point about the villain – definitely much better than in other recent Marvel films.

  16. Great review. I loved the film and thought the new thriller aspect of the film took Marvel into a new Genre even if in a relatively small way. Very much looking forward to the next one :D

  17. ckckred says:

    Nice review. I have to admit I’m not a fan of the Marvel movies (I think they’re all essentially the same picture since all of them have a similar set-up), and I didn’t find The Winter Soldier to be very good. Though I know plenty of comic book fans will disagree with me.

  18. Zoë says:

    Fantastic review here as always. I am thrilled to see that you enjoyed it so much. I absolutely adored the Winter Soldier… such an amazing villain (I feel the MCU is missing a lot in terms of villains). It was a solid entry and I loved how it came together. I liked how cheese was at a minimum here, didn’t have to roll my eyes every other line.

  19. Mark Hobin says:

    I know you’re in the UK, but in the U.S. the official start of summer movie season begins on May 2nd with The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Yet here we have a film that feels like summer movie season has already begun. I tell ya. It’s get’s earlier and earlier ever year.

    Great review!

  20. hybridZone says:

    I loved this movie way more than the first, it was also good to see the Cap use his shield more frequently. With the turn of events in this film, I can’t wait for the Avengers sequel

  21. hybridZone says:

    Awesome review by the way

  22. Mr Rumsey says:

    Great review! I think we are pretty much on the same page here, I really enjoyed the film – especially Black Widow!

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