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Captain America: The Winter Soldier REVIEW

April 04, 2014|By Elliott Serrano, @ElliottSerrano | For RedEye

There was a point in Captain America: The Winter Soldier where I decided that the movie could do no wrong. The movie had already established the relationship between Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) and Sam Wilson (Antony Mackie) rather effortlessly in the opening minutes of the film. Knowing the kinship that Captain America had with his sidekick known as “The Falcon” in the comics, this would be an important element of the story. And it looked as if directors Anthony and Joe Russo, along with screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely were saying “we got this.”

The movie would go on to borrow liberally from the recent run of comics written by Ed Brubaker and drawn by Steve Epting. The darker tone of a spy-thriller combined with super heroics translates surprisingly well to the big screen, especially when you throw in some “Bourne Identity” style stunt sequences and add a dash of Marvel-style hyper-realism. The total package makes for a very effective and entertaining entry to the Marvel Cinematic Universe series of movies.

The plot is rather simple: After a daring rescue of passengers on a hijacked ocean freighter, Captain America finds himself caught up in a tangled conspiracy to take over the world by the shadowy organization known as HYDRA. (This would be the same organization that vexed the good captain in his last movie and The Avengers.) An assassination attempt on a key character demonstrates that powerful forces are at work, and before you can say “deus ex machina” we learn that millions of lives are at stake.

The plot serves to string together a thrilling number of action sequences, and allow the story to serve as an allegory about the how freedom is often given up too easily. It’s a comic book movie, so of course some moralizing is to be expected. And knowing the idealism of the character, it’s not all that hard to accept.

It wouldn’t be until the final act that I started to feel a bit cheated. Up until that point, the movie expertly juggles gritty, somber themes with tension-breaking humor. And even though veteran movie goers can spot the “villain” a mile away, you still have fun going along for the ride.

I just wish that the film makers had come up with something more than another doomsday device that the hero has to defeat before the clock runs out. I mean, we’ve already seen this scenario in Thor: The Dark World and Marvel’s The Avengers.

Also, as someone who has seen a lot -and I do mean a LOT of movies - I couldn’t help but pick out stylistic elements that I recognized from other movies. I will award a prize to the first person who spots what appears to be a “Star Wars” homage in the movie.

(Send me an e-mail if you spot it. It's pretty obvious.)

As for the main “baddie” the  “Winter Soldier” himself, I was rather pleased that the screenwriters decided to keep to the plot line of the comics and make his fate rather…ambiguous. If you’ve read the comics, you’ll know what I mean.

Despite these nitpicks, Captain America: The Winter Soldier proves to be yet another successful entry to the Marvel Studios series. It’s fun, thrilling and gritty. Yet never takes itself too seriously.

If only they could come up with a new kind of ending.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER GETS A GEEK FACTOR RATING OF: 3 ½ VIBRANIUM SHIELDS (out of 4)

Cast: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Cobie Smulders, Frank Grillo, Emily VanCamp, Hayley Atwell, with Robert Redford as Alexander Pierce and Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury

Directors:                      Anthony and Joe Russo
Screenplay by:               Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely

RATED PG

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