Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the most everything. THE MOST EVERYTHING. It is the most action-packed Marvel film. It is the most emotional Marvel film. It is the most intricate and complex Marvel film and it is the best Marvel film to date.
Ever since Marvel's The Avengers we all questioned, "what now?" What could they possibly do to step it up? Marvel listened to our questions and they delivered. Captain America: The First Avenger was a passable film. It set up the character of Steve Rogers and introduced us to his world. However, it was slow and probably the most flawed of the solo Avenger films in Phase One (ignoring Iron Man 2). It was a good film but not as strong or memorable as say Iron Man or the first Thor. It did it's job and did it well enough. However, The Winter Soldier easily supersedes its predecessor as well as every Marvel film before it. It is part action, part espionage, part thriller and definitely part heroic. It is everything we want from a sequel. It is everything we want from a great film.
Chris Evans reprises his role as the iconic symbol and he continuously proves that Marvel cast the perfect person to embody this hero. The range of emotion that he must portray in this film is incredibly varied and he makes the transitions perfectly and there is a large amount of realism to it. Besides Thor, Captain America is the most sympathetic Avenger. It's mainly because he was a normal human with great virtues given a chance to protect the beliefs of America, and when he's fighting the enemies, we remember that. Not a moment goes by that we don't side with him or disagree with his methods. Every second of the way we feel every punch and when he fails it is devastating. Evans pulls off the "cool" factor of Captain America effortlessly but the harder task is pulling off the emotion and more human side of him but he does it brilliantly. I have always said that you can really tell when an actor has become a character by studying his eyes. Eyes play a gargantuan factor in acting. Their dilation, focus and intensity speak a lot for a character. Due to the fact that he wears a mask half the time, Evans needs to rely on his eyes to speak the emotion and he nails it. Evans is not only a perfect Captain America who can fight with precision and take choreographed material and make it look natural, he is the perfect Steve Rogers. He has the physique and knowledge of the character down to the core.
When the title for your movie blatantly states the villain, you need to deliver a memorable villain and it is without a doubt that The Winter Soldier is the creepiest, most frightening and best villain so far in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Other than Loki, there has never been any other villain brought to life on the big screen as satisfyingly as the Winter Soldier (within the MCU). He is threatening and that really gets across to the audience. His motives, intimidation level and overall personality are so astounding. The first time he appears on screen he demands your attention and well-deservedly receives it. Sebastian Stan embodies The Winter Soldier and similarly to Chris Evans, he is perfect. In fact, The Winter Soldier is one of the standouts of the film. Every scene with him is immensely gratifying and the reason why we love superhero films. We get such an emotional performance from Stan. His face is covered with a mask for more time than Evans and Stan's eyes flash such a huge amount of intensity that his face is implanted as such a memorable image. The Winter Soldier is bound to go down as one of the best villains of all time. He proves to be a definite challenge for the hero (which every villain should be), a very complex character and above all, a worthy addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He is not a character we will only see once. He steals every scene he is in.
You know a movie is doing everything right when everyone in the theatre is silent. When everyone is in awe. When even all of the popcorn chewing and beverage slurping within the auditorium has come to a halt because everyone is captivated by the story unfolding on the screen. Captain America: The Winter Soldier does this not once, not twice...but continuously. As a viewer you are constantly drawn into the universe. The pacing of the story is spot on. Carefully entwining beautiful action sequences spaced between exposition, the movie never let's you go and never hesitates to slow down or speed up. The dialogue is witty and captivating and propels the plot immensely. Every conversation is just a gripping as the following fight scene mainly because it is written so precisely. There isn't any dawdling or "beating around the bush", the dialogue gets to the point and keeps you guessing and gripping your seat. Most importantly, it works because the characters are believable. They have a lot of depth and a wide range of obstacles to overcome. In other words, they are not one-dimensional but feel like real people.
This is by far Marvel's most crowded film to date with the exception of The Avengers. The Avengers utilized each of its numerous characters extremely well with equal screen time and dialogue that fit each of their personas. Captain America: The Winter Soldier does it as well. I was immensely surprised by the amount of main characters in the film. Captain America, The Winter Soldier, Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and The Falcon (Anthony Mackie) all play the lead roles but Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford), Brock Rumlow (Frank Grillo), and Agent Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) play extremely prominent and significant roles as well. On a side note, it goes without saying that the addition of Robert Redford simply elevates the extreme credibility of these films. The moment he steps on screen for the first time there's just an immense of power to behold. Each of these characters are essential to the continuance of the story and are utilized extremely fashionably and with great care. Their motives are straight and clear and they never diverge from who they really are. They never become jumbled or over complicated. Every sequence is a beautifully orchestrated composition of this ensemble.
The addition of so many new characters can sometimes be overabundant for a film (hence why Spiderman 3 was such a failure) but it simply works in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Everyone has a back story and an explicit foundation for the who, what, when, where and why. Along with the addition of new characters, this sequel does what every sequel should do and that is to delve into the back story of our former characters. We get to learn a lot more about Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow as well as [Nick Fury](movie:589189). They aren't just regular caricatures. They are unique and have a standing worth watching in the film. The dynamic in each interaction between whether it be Natasha Romanoff and Nick Fury or Steve Rogers and Alexander Pierce or even The Falcon and Brock Rumlow is beautifully scripted and genuinely delivered.
When it comes to the superhero genre we immediately think of the action. What set pieces will be present? How many will there be? How will they end or begin? As mentioned before, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the most action-packed film in the MCU by far. There are about ten action sequences wisely spaces throughout the movie but they never get boring. The action in Captain America: The Winter Soldier features an entourage of amazing hand to hand combat, enthralling chase sequences, cat and mouse series and they all not only progress the story but they make sense in it. They don't feel unnecessary and thus every punch and impact is all the more powerful. There is even a emotional factor within them that many action sequences don't provide us with anymore. The production design and set design of the film add even more brilliance as nearly every action sequence adds a whole new scale through the use of location. We get fight scenes that take place in the ocean, on building rooftops and even in the air. Marvel has taken everything it knows and thrust it into one massively pleasing film.
Previous composer Alan Silverstri (The Avengers, Back to the Future), who helmed the music for the first Captain America, was not present for this film. Replacing him was Henry Jackman (X-Men First Class, Captain Phillips), who adds a whole level of intensity and character to the film. Silverstri did a great job with the origin of Captain America, giving us the nationalistic pride feeling with his orchestrations but Captain America: The Winter Soldier has an espionage theme and Jackman's score really gives us that "Bond" vibe while still staying true to the true colors of the first avenger. It's not over the top but it really propels the story along.
[Captain America: The Winter Soldier](movie:254973) runs at over two hours and it is a blast from start to finish. Marvel continuously delivers great films after another but Captain America: The Winter Soldier isn't one of them. They have outdone themselves so much that this is another masterpiece among the masterpieces of beloved superhero films. The story alone gives so much credence to where they will be leading into with future films and of course the much anticipated The Avengers: Age of Ultron. There are numerous Easter Eggs and references within the film as well as an exceptional end credits scene that introduces something very important in the Avengers sequel. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is Marvel's most ambitious and different film. It is smart, gripping and incredibly engaging. This genre is not leaving us anytime soon and Marvel knows it. They are a juggernaut to be reckoned with. I give Captain America: The Winter Soldier a 10/10.