Movie Reviews

‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’: A worthy A-star sequel

By Zaki JufriMovies - 03 April 2014 12:00 AM | Updated 4:37 PM

‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’: A worthy A-star sequel

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Our Rating

4/5 Stars

In any franchise, a movie that goes beyond its second and sometimes third sequel might elicit yawns from the ever hard-to-please audience.

But not Marvel’s.

Since 2008’s ‘Iron Man’, the comic book-turned-entertainment empire has doled out movie after movie (nine films in all), bringing its superheroes to the big screen, raking in almost US$5.6 billion (S$7.1 billion) and counting.

Others have followed suit but Marvel’s continuing success is due to the shrewd positioning of its characters across a spectrum of genres, ensuring that every new movie is fresh and original.

Not to mention pairing each character with directors such as Joss Whedon, Shane Black, Jon Favreau and Kenneth Branagh, each with his own unique voice. 

There is still the upcoming ‘Guardians of The Galaxy’, out this August, if the trailers could be believed, an oddball space adventure.

‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ is the follow-up to ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’.

It is perhaps the most well-rounded film from Marvel, mixing in adrenaline-pumping action with Tom Clancy-esque espionage and a hint of Cold War paranoia. 

The result is an escapist action thriller that is not only heavy on the entertainment but also on the smarts.

A CHARACTER-DRIVEN STORY

Taking over the reins from Joe Johnston is sibling duo Anthony and Joe Russo.

Known for crafting episodes of cult comedies ‘Community’ and ‘Arrested Development’, the Russo brothers, with a screenplay written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, brought over the same acerbic wit that is their trademark.

Based on a series of comics written by Ed Brubaker, ‘The Winter Soldier’ sees Captain America (Chris Evans) further grappling with the murky world of modern-day espionage as an operative of intelligence agency SHIELD.

The well-defined, good guy-bad guy conflict of World War II from ‘The First Avenger’ has been lost to new technology and geopolitics that kept the Cold War boiling.

After returning from a mission, Captain America begins to question the agency’s work and plans, which are at odds with his morality. Throw in an assassination plot, a nefarious conspiracy, another super soldier, Scarlet Johansson in a tight black jumpsuit, and we’re off.

Markus and McFeely’s well-thought-out script plays out the story like an unravelling puzzle, slowly peeling away the twisty plot, simmering under the surface until we get to the ambitious and explosive finale.

FINE CAST OF CHARACTERS 

Three movies in, Evans has shown viewers why he deserves to wear Cap’s star-spangled costume. His disarming charisma, appeal, and screen presence, combined with the character’s personality and tragic back-story make for a compelling and entertaining superhero.

The titular Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan)

Unlike the swagger of Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark, Evans’ Steve Rogers is a grounded everyman with a heavy burden, and he makes light work of the role. The result is that people look up to and root for him, and when he steps up to rally the troops, everyone listens.

Just like their television work, the Russo brothers are big on supporting characters, assembling one of the finest cast who are no mere sidekicks. 

Johansson returns as the plucky Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow with more screen-time, giving her best performance as the femme fatale.

Samuel L Jackson as the enigmatic Nick Fury just chews everyone in his scenes.

‘Winter Soldier’ adds two new faces to this party: Robert Redford brings gravitas to the role of high-ranking S.H.I.E.L.D. member Alexander Pierce, while Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson makes for the perfect wing man to Captain America. 

And in a smaller but essential part, Sebastian Stan makes for an intriguing Winter Soldier.

OLD-SCHOOL FILMING

Part of what makes ‘The Winter Soldier’ stand out among other superhero films is thanks to the sparingly used special effects. It is nowhere near the usual CGI spectacle viewers are used to seeing from Marvel. 

It is old-school filmmaking all the way: verite-style via handheld cameras to take you into the thick of the action. 

The movie’s bait-and-switch storylines will keep everyone guessing and with all the elements going for it, it is earning a high spot on the best superhero films list.

It is perhaps one of the very few examples of how one can pay respect to the mythos of the original comic book character while boldly moving forward to a new direction. 

‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ is now showing in cinemas

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Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier

    (2014)
  • Rated
    PG /
  • Language
    Eng
  • (9 Reviews)