FlixChatter Review – Captain America: The Winter Soldier

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It’s always nice when a movie lives up to one’s expectations, even better when it exceeds it. As a big fan of the first film, I’m already invested in the character of Steve Rogers, aka Captain America. I think director Joe Johnston did an outstanding job in introducing a superhero who’s not inherently cool like most of his peers, but his origins story has its undeniable charm and intrigue, not to mention that it perfectly sets up the larger universe of The Avengers. Naturally I was slightly dismayed that Johnston was replaced by a relatively *unknown* pair of directors, Joe & Anthony Russo have done mostly TV work, but as it turns out, I needn’t worry.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier picks up where the first film left off and immediately hits the ground running. Literally. Cap and his future ally Sam ‘The Falcon’ Wilson (Anthony Mackie) *meets cute* during a morning jog near the Washington Monument. It’s a humorous scene filled with all kinds of patriotic symbolism and an efficient throwback to our formerly frozen hero adjusting to modern society, what with his notebook filled with pop culture references he’s missed out on and his ride Black Widow calling him a old fossil. It’s tough living as a man out of his time, the only place he’s most familiar with is the Smithsonian which puts the bygone era on display. The ideals Rogers fought for and believed in has been long gone. “S.H.I.E.L.D. takes the world as it is, not as we’d like to be!” Nick Fury tells him, and he’s given a tour to the monstrous helicarrier hangar that reminds me of the Shatterdome (Jaeger-making factory) in Pacific Rim.

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The conspiracy theory stuff harkens us to the 70s paranoia thrillers, which also borrows some themes from Minority Report when Cap quipped ‘I thought the punishment usually came AFTER the crime.’ Yet somehow the story feels so timely thanks to the Edward Snowden NSA scandal about how the Big Brother style government is still very much with us.

Fans of espionage movies like me would love the story arc here where Cap struggles with a moral dilemma and trust issues, but action fans should be pleased with the amount of exciting fight sequences, hand-to-hand combat, and one of the most relentless car chases in history! It’s an exhilarating, adrenaline-pumping scene of the geek-gasm variety. Nice to see Samuel L. Jackson given more screen time here, instead of merely showing up to berate the Avengers or give out orders. But he also gets to do his usual scenery-chewing best. The dynamic between Cap and Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson sporting a sleek new haircut) is fun to watch as well. They couldn’t be more different from each other. Cap with his straight-as-an-arrow sensibilities where he sees things as black or while, whilst ex-KGB Romanoff practically lives in a gray area all her life. It’s an unlikely Avenger-pairing, as she also volunteers to be his matchmaker, that works quite well here as she unrelentingly tries to brings Cap out of his shell. Anthony Mackie is delightfully charming as The Falcon, I secretly cheer every time he came on screen. The interaction between him & Cap provides some of the biggest laughs, but there are also moments that highlights our hero’s humanity.

I overheard someone complain right after the screening that there were too much drama and not enough action. Now I couldn’t disagree more with whoever said that, as I definitely think there’s a nice balance of thrilling action and engaging dramatic tension throughout. Even the decidedly quieter moments has its purpose, and without giving anything away, it’s one I was particularly looking forward to. Even during the most action-packed fight scenes, there’s emotional moments that keeps the blam, whack, pow punches from ringing hollow, especially the moment Cap realizes who The Winter Soldier turns out to be. The action stuff looks quite spectacular all around, which I’ve come to expect from the $170 mil budget. I’m glad to say I didn’t get dizzy from slo-mo or shaky-cam techniques and there’s just the right amount of CGI as the fight sequences felt pretty realistic.

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Kudos to Chris Evans for truly bringing the character to life in such a compelling way. He seems far more confident in the role as well as an actor, which makes Steve Rogers’ journey all the more intriguing. He comes across as someone who’ve seen a lot and been through a lot, a broken-hearted man who somehow doesn’t become embittered by it all. He’s not just a hero because he’s a super soldier with perfect human specimen physique, but it’s his unapologetic goodness and abiding principles that makes him truly worth rooting for. That said, we still get to see plenty of cool scenes that shows what Cap is really capable of physically that’s amplified even more than the first film. He and his seemingly indestructible shield are truly pushed to their limit this time around. There are lots of action-packed scenes worth rewinding for once I get my hands on the Blu-ray!

The supporting cast is first rate all around. Robert Redford effortlessly adds gravitas as the S.H.I.E.L.D. big honcho Alexander Pierce. It’s shrewd casting given how a few of his early espionage films inspired the screenwriters of this film. He serves as a nice contrast to the more larger-than-life villain [but perhaps deemed too cartoonish] of the first Captain America film. Nary of a maniacal laugh or anything of the sort, Pierce is quite a sinister figure. There is one particular scene in his house that actually makes my blood run cold. Sebastian Stan gets most of the action scenes and perhaps not as much of the dramatic stuff, but I do think he has the chops. That’s a good thing as the actor signs multiple-picture deals with Marvel as the inevitable successor of the franchise. I also have to mention Frank Grillo who elevates his character way above the typical thug-ish bad guy. He’s one reliable character actor who I wish would get more prominent roles in Hollywood.

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I think it’s brilliant that this sequel is set in the political thriller genre and not focusing too much on the fish-out-of-water cliché of Cap’s existence. I applaud the studio for making bold choices in the plot, which has been aptly called ‘a game changer’ in terms of its effects to the future Marvel movies. The story gives a nod to his past but also boldly moves the story forward.  I feel that there’s truly something huge at stake here, not just for Cap but for everyone in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Final Thoughts: Thanks to screenwriters Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely and the spirited direction of the Russo brothers, this has become my favorite Marvel stand-alone feature and Cap my favorite Marvel superhero. It’s nice to see that the story and character still take center stage here and not get drowned out by ultra-bombastic and unnecessary action scenes. I’m thrilled that the Russos will be back for the third film. I think by the time that one wraps, the Captain America franchise could be the most cohesive one as its storyline flows as one unit from one to the next. Hail to the Cap!

4.5 out of 5 reels

P.S. Make sure you stay until the second post-credit scene. Trust me, it’s worth the wait!


What do you think of this movie? Did you like it more or less than I did?

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79 thoughts on “FlixChatter Review – Captain America: The Winter Soldier

    1. Hi Steven! If you like the first one I think you’d enjoy this one, and there are lots of extra goodies, make sure you stay until the 2nd post-credit scene!

    1. Hi Dan, I actually don’t think the plot is all that twisty at all, in fact it’s quite straight-forward. Some of Redford’s conspiracy films are way more complicated than this. But it was definitely a lot of fun!

  1. Nice review Ruth, put up mine yesterday and have given it the same score. It really is a great movie. Loved the car chase scene and how that built up its tension at the beginning.

  2. Really glad you liked it Ruth! I had really good fun with it, although I did miss the period setting of the first a little. What on earth was that person you heard complaining going on about? Not enough action? I thought they got the balance just about right with action and drama.

    1. I loved the retro setting of the first one too, and Joe Johnston did such a great job w/ the first film. But there are lots of things to love in this sequel, and yeah it’s preposterous to think there’s not enough action in this film, sheesh they should just stick to plot-less Jason Statham movies or something.

  3. After tutoring last night, I opted not to check on whether or not I could see this. The storm was in full force and I thought it prudent to get home; plus I was tired. And so I still don’t know when I’m going to have time for it. But I do know I’m excited about it.

    All the more so because you just gave it a 4.5, in addition to tossing such superlatives as “favorite superhero” and “best standalone.” I hope I like it as much as you do!

    1. I can’t wait to see it again tonight, as I’ve mentioned to you. I really enjoyed it, which is quite a feat considering I LOVED the first film. It blew Thor 2 out of the water, that one just felt so frivolous & silly compared to this one.

      1. I thought Thor 2 felt silly even without having seen this one.

        I might try to see Captain America somewhere on Sunday night, after Joe. We’ll see how tired I am.

  4. I can’t wait to see this, but I have a feeling it’ll wait till DVD for me, just because of lack of time. Nice write up, and you completely have me anticipating it heavily!

    1. Bummer Andrew. I was a bit worried at first that I might not like it as much as the critics do, as that often happens but I’m happy to report it’s well worth all the positive buzz!!

  5. You definitely enjoyed this one more than I did. Don’t get me wrong, it was better than the first and it felt like a better film. But towards the end it just boiled down to the same old comic book film stuff and i for one am getting tired of it all.

    Fun while watching, but there still feels like there’s nothing new.

    1. Hmmm, I actually feel the direction feels fresh in terms of style and concept. I think given the past the Cap had w/ Bucky made the fight scenes more emotional (for a lack of a better word) than it otherwise would. There is also the struggle from the part of The Winter Soldier too at the finale that was handled well.

  6. Sounds like this is exactly what I’ve been hoping for from the Marvel sequels. Iron Man 3 was a fine sequel in my opinion but I felt Captain America was a real opportunity and it seems they’ve grabbed it. Hopefully seeing this next week! 🙂

    1. Yeah, I think Marvel is pretty bold in switching things up, it goes well w/ the conspiracy theme where nothing is what it seems. Hope you enjoy this one too Dan!

  7. jackdeth72

    Hi, Ruth:

    A film like this needs a superlative bad guy and “McGuffin”. The reason for all other actions in the film..

    Though I thought Hugo Weaving’s Schmiddt/Red Skull needed more exposure and back story. The Winter Soldier sounds more well rounded and able to pull the plow more adeptly. Also curious to see how the Falcon pans out, aerially and physically.

    1. Hi Kevin! Yes that McGuffin is astutely used here I think, which like you said, gives a context to all that action sequences. I like Weaving as Red Skull but yeah, it sometimes gets so cartoon-ish though not exactly his fault. Cap & Falcon made a terrific combo, I love those two!!

  8. Great review, Ruth! Can’t wait to see this with the wife tomorrow night as I’m reading mostly good and some great reviews. One review did say though that Redford’s addition seemed intended to up the level of “spy”-ness (is that a word?), but it sort of failed at that. Did you get that sense?

    1. Hi Gene! I wouldn’t say fail but it just wasn’t as mysterious/enigmatic as it could’ve been. That’s the reason I didn’t give it a perfect score as the story is not exactly perfect. It still works though and the lack of suspense didn’t derail the film for me. Lot of other points to appreciate IMO.

  9. Nice review, Ruth, though I already see I’m about to be in the minority big time when it comes to this movie. While I agree that the movie has its moments, and Cap’s interactions with Scarlett Johansson and the Falcon are this films brightest parts, I can’t say I really have much else positive to say. Chris Evans was certainly good, though! 🙂

    1. Oh no! Bummer you didn’t enjoy this one. Did you like the first film? I kind of think that if ppl didn’t care for the character they might not get as much out of the films. I happen to love Evans’ portrayal of Cap and so I enjoy seeing his journey.

      1. I loved the first film. My favorite “first entry” out of all the stand-alone Marvel films. This one just didn’t do it for me, though. :\

  10. Great review, Ruth! I’m actually really excited to see this as well. After being significantly downplayed in The Avengers, I’m ready to see more of the Captain. I’m kinda over Iron Man. Plus, I want to see Chris Evans in more films! I don’t think we’ve seen all he can offer.

    1. Hey Ashley! To be honest I’ve been over Iron Man for some time. Yes RDJ is uber cool & great w/ his one liners but something about Cap’s earnestness is so darn charming. You just can’t help but root for him y’know, for once it’s nice to see a hero who’s actually heroic and cares about others. Amen about Chris Evans too, I sure hope he won’t retire soon as I think his best roles are yet to come!

  11. Great review. I loved the film and thought the new thriller aspect of the film took Marvel into a new Genre even if in a relatively small way. Very much looking forward to the next one 😀

    1. I’m glad they’re already working on the next one as I absolutely can’t wait for it! It’s gonna go against Batman vs Superman and y’know what, I’m actually MORE excited to see Captain America 3 than that one.

        1. Ahah yeah, wild card at best! It saddens me to say this as I’m a huge fan of the two characters but I’m afraid it’ll be a train wreck!

  12. I thought it was…ok. Then again I almost fell asleep during the first one, so that one, apart from Johansson’s horribly unflattering hairstyle, was an improvement in almost every way. It was worth getting to the end just to see that mid-credits scene.

    1. Oh you’ve seen this one too? Seems that Europe gets this sooner than us which is ironic given it’s titled Captain America 😀 Glad you think it’s an improvement over the first one though. And yeah, that post-credit scenes are awesome!

    1. High five Mark! Yes, enjoyable in every way. I think they did a great job w/ the conspiracy story here, it’s not as twisty as some people have been saying though.

  13. Fantastic review Ruth, love it! I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed this one, definitely going back for it a second time. It just worked on so many levels!

        1. Well Zoë! I still love it the 2nd time around and I caught some of the references I missed out before. What about you? Are you gonna review this one, girl?

  14. Ted S.

    Pretty much in agreement here Ruth, I thought it’s the BEST Marvel movie so far. As you know I wasn’t a big fan of the first one but I really love the move to more of a espionage kind of genre. Also, this is a good example of how to use hand held/shaky cam correctly, it didn’t distract the action sequences and we actually SEE the action. In fact I thought this movie contains maybe some of the best action scenes I’ve ever seen in a long time, from the shootouts to the hand to hand combats, they’re all spectacular! And whoever that idiot was for saying there’s too much drama and not enough action, he/she should just wait and see that crappy new Transformers movie.

    I plan to go see it again at the LieMax theater next week, loved the Dolby Atmos sound, now need to see and hear it with IMAX’s picture and sound,

    1. Awesome Ted, glad you love this too! I was a bit worried you wouldn’t like this for whatever reason. Glad you think the action was great, I happen to think so too, as you can actually see it! That car chase and shootouts were great too, but there is also a nice balance w/ the dramatic stuff. So what rating would u give this one then?

      1. Ted S.

        I would give it 4 out 5 stars, I only have a couple of issues with the movie. Since it’s called Winter Soldier, I would’ve like to see him more on the screen similar to the Joker in The Dark Knight and the climatic showdown between him and Capt. was kind of anti-climatic. Also, I didn’t think The Falcon add much to the story, I know they want to add more characters from the comics and of course fill their diversity obligations. There’s always going to be someone saying the movie is racist if it doesn’t have a minority good guy or two fighting along the main good guy. But then again I’ve never read any of the Capt. America comics so maybe he and the Falcon are buddies in the written form.

        Oh yeah, the 3D effects were useless again. In fact, I think all of the Marvel movies I’ve seen in 3D so far were all useless. I wish they either stop post-converting these movies into 3D or shoot them in native 3D.

        1. Hey I think this is the first time I saw you give such a high rating! Usually when you said you love a movie you ended up only giving it 3 or 3.5, ahah.

          I hear ya about The Winter Soldier not getting enough screen time but at the same I felt like his presence was still there even if the actor was not on screen. Thus it justifies having him in the title. I agree about the 3D thing, I’d rather see it on IMAX-size screen but still in 2D.

          1. Ted S.

            Ha ha, I actually gave The Dark Knight Rises & Skyfall 4.5 stars but yeah most of the movies I enjoyed I tend to give them 3 or 3.5. I really have to enjoy it to give more than 3 stars and if I intend to see it more than once in a theater, then I’ll give a 4 stars. I’ll probably see it at the fake IMAX sometime next week, maybe a matinee since it’s cheaper during the day.

        2. Just to throw some comic book history in there, Sam and Steve are best of friends in the books. They have a long history of not only fighting alongside each other but confiding in each other as well. Sam has saved Steve’s life on a number of occasions.

          Just tossing that in. 🙂

    1. Glad to hear Fernando! I do miss some parts from the first film, esp. the retro setting but there are a lot to like in this sequel too.

  15. Definitely disagree with that guy who said this was too much drama over action.

    You already know how much I’ve enjoyed this. In fact I’ve already seen for a second time yesterday which a different bunch of friends 🙂 Still sticking to the point that this is my favorite Marvel movie!

    1. Hi Asrap! Yeah that person must be used to seeing Transformers type of movies, ahah.

      Hey you’ve seen it twice too eh, yeah I saw it Friday night and was still loving it!

  16. Who was that person you talked to?? Too much drama? The drama made this movie stand out. Not enough action? There was tons of action, and it was really good action at that.

    1. Oh it was just a movie-goer in front of me talking to his friends. I really think the amount of action is just right, any more would be too much!

  17. Posted my review up yesterday and let me just say I’m with ya. I watched it twice the weekend in order to come up with my final score and I loved it both times. This one does so many things differently than the other Marvel films while also capturing what makes this whole crazy collective project work. Loved it.

    1. Woo hoo! Glad we’re in agreement again here Keith. I think the decision to hire the Russo brothers really paid off despite their lack of experience w/ big budget films. I really like the political thriller aspect, but it also has a lot of heart and a reason behind all that spectacular action!

  18. I really liked it, but not as much as you did, Ruth. It’s a really good sequel and one of Marvel’s best recent films. That said, I still prefer the first Captain America. 🙂

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  20. This was good fun. I loved the first Captain America and this actually surpassed it. Not as great as The Avengers but definitely a Top 5 MCU film. Great review!

    1. I actually feel that the two Captain America movies have so much heart that compared to even The Avengers which was more fun in terms of action. I think the two Cap movies are definitely on my top 5 😀

  21. Tom

    This is just a fantastic review Ruth, nice work. I come into this second film completely blind, not having seen the first and not knowing much about Cap’s story at all and you filled me in greatly on what I clearly missed while I watched Winter Soldier. I liked what I saw but I wasn’t pulled in, so I didn’t have as good of a time as I possibly could have. But this review clears a lot of things up for me, it’s great. Might even have to give this one another shot

    1. Hi Tom! Thank you. Wow that’s interesting that you came into it blindly, I figure that would affect one’s enjoyment (for better or worse) in seeing the sequel. I really hope you’d give the first film a shot before seeing The Winter Soldier a second time, perhaps you’ll get much more out of it then. Cheers!

  22. Hey Ruthie, I’m disappointed to see that you didn’t mention Cap’s new haircut. I think it brings Cap’s look into the contemporary world that the movie is set in, while still leaving the vibe of his classic and retro self. :p

    You’re right about everything else. It really served this movie well to be set in an espionage setting, truly grounding the story and the character in the larger scale of things. After Tesserects, Extremis and other worldly elements of the Marvel Universe thus far, nice to see a movie that was just a big ass conspiracy theory. Awesome work as always Ruth!

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