This weekend’s release of “Captain America: The Winter Solider” marks the second installment in the Captain America film series and the ninth movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). As a fan of the comic book superhero genre, I had an idea of what to expect going into this movie, and like a lot of sequels of this nature, it turned out to be deeper, more developed, and a step up on most levels from the original. This film will not disappoint fans and moviegoers, as it presents an intense, action-filled, fantasy adventure starring Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Robert Redford, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, and more.
In 2011’s “Captain America: The First Avenger,” Steve Rogers (Evans) takes part in a top-secret research experiment that transforms him into the super solider known as Captain America. After fighting to defend the US during WWII and attempting to stop HYDRA, the worldwide organization dedicated to global domination, Rogers is frozen in ice until he is discovered in modern day. In “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” Rogers is having a hard time fitting in to the modern world, but seems to be dealing with the events from “The Avengers (2012)” film better than others. While continuing to work for S.H.I.E.L.D., the espionage and law-enforcement agency present in the Marvel Comics Universe, Rogers must combat a threat from his past and figure out who is good and who is bad.
One of my favorite elements of the Marvel movies is how they intertwine and connect the characters, stories, etc. “Captain America: The Winter Solider” is a sequel to the first Captain America film, but it is also another extension of the Marvel universe. Most of the main characters from this universe (Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America) have one or more of their own films and each sequel or next film addresses its own storyline and predecessor as it should, but also ties in together as a whole. There are multiple characters that are present in each other’s individual stories, and the possibility of overlapping is endless. This all makes for a series of very similar and interconnected - yet separate - exciting fantasy adventures.
With the character of Captain America, the audience gets to explore someone who is a bit more relatable than other superheroes (if there's such thing as a "relatable superhero") in this world. He starts as an underdog, a weak Army soldier, and with much determination, heart, and a great deal of science (and fantasy) is turned into a tough fighting machine and a symbol for the nation. In "Winter Solider," Rogers is in top fighting condition and has learned a great deal of new combat moves. From the start of this film, Captain America uses his new fighting style to completely dominate the enemy through hand-to-hand combat, jumps, rolls, and shield throwing. For most of the movie, he is like an unstoppable force, getting knocked down from time to time, but popping right back up to win the fight.
Like other Marvel films, "Captain America: The Winter Solider" uses a great deal of computer-generated imagery and effects, and for the most part, the world has a more of a special effects feel or fantasy glow to it than real life. That being said, everything looks great, and for the high amount of unrealistic action and events, these films do about as good a job as any of making it look real. Similarly, the camera is somewhat shaky at times throughout the film, but multiple movies such as this have shaky cameras during combat or action scenes. I feel this is sometimes unavoidable, and with so much fantasy action, large explosions, bullets flying, and more, the filmmakers accomplish the task of complimenting and highlighting parts of the film with various effects.
Most of the films in the Marvel universe have a very similar structure: the hero has to overcome a great power or evil, and does so with the help of new friends and other heroes. This film is no different. There is an ample amount of funny jokes, humorous comebacks, teasers, and sly or sarcastic remarks, and it does have its share of crazy, unrealistic, over-the-top action and dialogue. The film succeeds in expanding various characters, cleaning up and addressing past characters and events, and progressing the Marvel and Captain America story.
When all is said and done, "Captain America: The Winter Solider” is a thrilling, sci-fi fantasy filled with violent combat and is an all-around-entertaining film to watch. If you attend this movie, make sure to stay until after the credits for a sneak peak at an upcoming Marvel movie.
Rated 3 out of 5 stars
‘Captain America: The Winter Solider’ is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence, gunplay and action throughout. Running time is 2 hours and 16 minutes.
Hayden Pittman is a special contributor to WFAA.com and a freelance film critic and entertainment blogger out of Dallas. More of his content can be found on YouPlusDallas.com and his author archive here. He is a film, TV, and sports enthusiast, and hopes to pursue a future in filmmaking and screenwriting. As an average, passionate film lover who rarely misses a film, his reviews are straightforward and his way with words will let you know in a simple way what he thinks. Don’t like what he has to say? Let him know at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @HPMoviePitt.