Movie Review – Captain America: The Winter Soldier

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CapCall me skeptical.

While Captain America is a superhero everyone could certainly look up to, he is not, truthfully, that interesting of a character. He’s not a godlike being from another planet. No super ego. No secret identity. No larger-than-life transformation. He’s simply Steve Rogers. All-American hero with such earnest goodness. A self-sacrificing soldier, an unassuming next door neighbor. The kind who could walk into his own Captain America’s exhibit, largely unrecognized.

Captain America: The First Avenger” wasn’t my favorite. Chris Evans (Captain America/Steve Rogers) doesn’t stand out as an actor. Even the Marvel press conference I attended last summer didn’t raise my expectations. As it turns out,“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” blows every per-conceived notion out of the water.

Like “Iron Man 3” and “Thor: The Dark World,” the movie takes place post-Battle of New York in “The Avengers.” It’s been a couple of years since Steve has been defrosted, picked up by S.H.I.E.L.D., and brought in to fight aliens alongside other superheroes. Physically, the 95-year old has started to adjust to 21st century living, but psychologically, he’s still unsure what he’s fighting for. Modern society is morally gray and doesn’t fit with his black-and-white view of the world. The world as he knew it has changed.

S.H.I.E.L.D. is expanded here beyond director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson, “Iron Man 2,” “Thor,” “The Avengers”) and agent Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders, “The Avengers”). Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford) is a top brass at the global espionage organization and member of the World Security Council, overseeing Project Insight, an overreaching secret project that would unprecedentedly change the fate of the world.

When director Fury was brazenly ambushed in broad daylight, Cap, teaming up with sassy and ambiguous Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson, “Iron Man 2,” “The Avengers,” “Her”) and war veteran Sam Wilson/Falcon (Anthony Mackie, “The Adjustment Bureau”). He must find out who’s behind the attack while he himself is being suspected and hunted down by members of the organization. He also faces his equal, a man from his past, a brainwashed assassin (Sebastian Stan) known as the Winter Soldier.

While the first movie is humorless, there’s a good dose of comedy in this installment, which makes it entertaining. Evans and Johansson have chemistry, making their polar opposite characters’ platonic relationship and banter interesting. Mackie fits right in as wing-man Falcon, egging humorous one-liners out of straight-laced Cap.

Directed by Joe and Anthony Russo, the film is more of a political action thriller, sprinkled with superhero adventures. An old-fashioned conspiracy dealing with government infiltration, mass surveillance, preemptive strike and the cost of freedom. It has a similar grounded-in-reality feel like the first “Iron Man,” and although not as dark as “The Dark Knight,” it’s filled with hard-hitting, intense action sequences. It even manages to churn out a few surprises. Incredibly awesome choreography and intensity, including hand-to-hand combat, land pursuit and aerial battle. Cap is unbelievably agile and fluid with his shield. The shield is expertly utilized both as an offense and defense. Falcon takes to the skies and makes it exhilarating. Black Widow’s considerable role greatly contributes to the dynamics and makes a significant impact on the movie.

For a usual Marvel treat, stay for two post-credit scenes, sparking interest of what’s to come in the next installment and next year’s “The Avengers: Age of Ultron.”

Marvel has raised the quality of superhero movies to the next level. “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” ranks up there as one of the very best.

Comic-Con 2011 Exhibit

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Photo by Nathalia Aryani.

Copyright (c) 2014. Nathalia Aryani.

Nathalia Aryani is a film columnist and has a movie blog, The MovieMaven ( Twitter: She can be reached at

Nathalia Aryani is a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic ( She has a movie blog, The MovieMaven ( Twitter: @the_moviemaven. She can be reached at [email protected].

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