Unlike a lot of people I know, I was not a big fan of the first Captain America Film. Not that I hated it, I just haven't had any desire to see it again. I mean I liked Chris Evans as the Captain, and Hugo Weaving as the Red Skull (cause, y'know it's always fun to watch Hugo Weaving play a dick), but the action was largely forgettable, the love story was incredibly forgettable, and his team that he fought with was...well forgettable. Now because of this I wasn't overly excited for this film, also because I wasn't a huge fan of the last phase two movie: Thor the Dark World. However it was a new director, took place in a new time period, and apparently some good source material behind it (although I've never read a page of The Captain's work, so that didn't mean much to me) so I went in hopeful.
The movie in all honesty drew me in from the first action sequence. The tricks with the shield and the punches the Captain was throwing really made him feel like a super soldier, much more than any scene in the first did. In fact, all the action in the film is very well filmed and exciting. The opening also introduces what I think is one of the films biggest strengths - the chemistry between Captain America and Black Widow. These two played off each other incredibly well, were very witty and Scarlett Johansson's performance actual made me interested in the possibility of a Black Widow spin off movie. Everyone else in the cast did a fine job, Anthony Mackie was good as Falcon, Sam Jackson is good as always, whoever it was who played Winter Soldier did a fine job (could look his name up but too lazy).
Another thing I appreciated was how grounded the film was. Both Iron Man 3 and Thor 2 had much more humour in them than any of the Phase One films. It didn't bother me in Iron Man 3 because Tony Stark's character was always established as incredibly humorous, but in Thor 2 it brought me out of the movie several times, as Thor is more of a stoic character, and a lot of the humour was just the same fish out of water shtick from the first film. Another thing those two films did was be a lot more comic book-y and over the top. The Winter Soldier is however, thankfully able to balance its humour very well and remain more realistic than other MCU films (as realistic as a film with three flying aircraft carriers can be). It also did a good job showing how a character from the past like the Captain would react to the way war and security is carried out nowadays with all the spying and pre-emptive actions. It made the fact that he was from the past actually relevant in the movie, when I didn't even think they would pay much attention to it.
The Winter Soldier was a pretty cool villain, he wasn't like the Joker or Loki where he almost made the film, but he was fine. I think the main reason I didn't care about him as much as I think I should was because I'm not overly attached to the last movie or the Captain America comics so I didn't care much about his identity, and that despite being in the title, he's not even essential to the story.
Captain America the Winter Solider has been called by many as the best film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to date. While I personally disagree with this opinion (I personally like Iron Man 1, 3 and the Avengers better) it is certainly a strong entry in the franchise and very good way to get me excited for The Avengers 2
Oh and any movie that has Abed cameo in it definitely gets a few extra points.