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MOVIE REVIEW: CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is an American superhero movie produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. The movie is intended to be the sequel to 2011's Captain America: The First Avenger and is the ninth instalment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The movie is directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, of TV's Community fame, with a screenplay by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely who wrote the previous entry.

 Plot

We pick up with Cap 2 years after his last outing with The Avengers, as he is lapping Sam Wilson (played by Anthony Mackie of 8 Mile and The Hurt Locker fame) on a jog throughout Washington DC. Soon, he is whisked away by The Black Widow, Natasha Romanoff (played by Scarlet Johanson of Her fame), to assist in saving a S.H.I.E.L.D. vessel from Algerian pirates. Aboard the ship however, Cap discovers Natasha fulfilling a secret side-mission set by Nick Fury; to extract some mysterious data from the ship's computers; where wackiness ensues! 

Review

Kevin Feige, producer of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, stated that Marvel Films hired the directors for The Winter Soldier because they loved the sell of being able to make a 70s political thriller masquerading as a big superhero movie, just like the first film where Joe Johnston, of the Rocketeer fame, went ahead and did what he does best: making a 1940's World War II movie, however here masquerading as a big superhero movie.

 

The writers wanted to adapt Ed Brubaker's Winter Soldier storyline from the comics, but it took them six months to convince themselves that they could do it. The duo settled on the conspiracy genre for the screenplay and cited 7o's thrillers and Robert Redford headliners Three Days of the Condor, The Parallax View, All the President's Men and Marathon Man as influences. Amongst this political and moral ambiguity of a cold-war thriller, the movie also ads themes of Cap's adjustment to the modern world that were originally to be included, but were ultimately cut from, The Avengers.

Marvel decided to pair Steve Rogers with other characters from The Avengers like Black Widow and Nick Fury because unlike Tony Stark and Thor, who could return to their own supporting casts, the mand out of time and very isolated Cap has nowhere else to go but with what he knows best; Government defence agencies such as S.H.I.E.L.D.

In relation to the cast, Game of Thrones' Emilia ClarkeJessica Brown Findlay, Adelaide's Teresa Palmer, Imogen Poots, and Alison Brie were all considered for Rogers' love interest in the film.

Captain America's uniform was altered with a more realistic Kevlar-based ballistic component that would protect Cap but at the same time function more like a military uniform as opposed to a flashy comic-book heroes. The Super Soldier outfit from the Steve Rogers: Super Soldier comic-book series was used as a way to thematically represent Steve Rogers’ place in the world of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the difference between working for S.H.I.E.L.D. and being the heroic Captain America.

The filmmakers were interested in adding  a tactical design to the Falcon costume as opposed to sticking to his red-spandex comic book origins.

Keeping in line with the 70's cold war feel, the Russo brothers consciously relied on a minimal use of computer-generated imagery, preferring live action, and props where possible. Where CGI was used, the special effects companies involved include George Lucas' Industrial Light & Magic and Scanline VFX.

 The movie was shot in Los Angeles, California before moving to Washington, D.C. and ClevelandOhio. The seemingly never-out-of-work Henry Jackman of Xmen First Class, Wreck it Ralph, Gi Joe: Retribution, This is the End, Turbo and Kick Ass 2 fame, composed the score.

The first televised advertisement for Captain America: The Winter Soldier aired during Super Bowl XLVIII on February 2, 2014. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Disney paid over $4 million per 30-second spot.

Pre-release tracking suggests that the film could gross over $80 million during its opening weekend in North America, surpassing the $65 million opening of Captain America: The First Avenger. During its first week of release, Captain America: The Winter Soldier earned $75.2 million in 32 overseas markets.

The movie has received very positive reviews, gaining a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 94% with the consensus stating, "Suspenseful and politically astute, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a superior entry in the Avengers canon and is sure to thrill Marvel diehards."

From the strength of impressive test screenings with Marvel Executives, the production team including the directors, the Russo brothers, Chris Evans as Captain America, Kevin Feige producer and Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely are to return for the third outing on May 6, 2016.

The first entry of Captain America (Captain America: The First Avenger) was a great trip down memory lane; dripping in nostalgia, but placing an entire time period into the heart of quite a difficult character. The character of Captain America suffers a bit of the Superman dilemma: how can an audience emphasise with a perfect character, a la Jesus? Batman is flawed and tortured, Spiderman is constantly gripped with anxiety, doubt and girlfriend issues, whereas Superman is literally set up on a pedestal looking down at a world that he cannot be a part of.

Captain America is literally a man out of time. It was a wise move to take an entire movie to show us the time period that he was born from. Whereas we only have an introduction of a world that Superman comes from, and the set- up of his character via his father, we had an entire movie dedicated to the creation and evolution of Captain America.

Steve Rogers is nothing but heart. A frail, skinny body, he had the courage to fight for his country with unwavering patriotism and trust. Flash over the Avengers, and we see Cap ill at ease as to what the world has become in his absence, which probably helped set him mentally for an all-out attack from an alien race (as opposed to one Tony Stark).

If the Avengers set Cap working for S.H.I.E.L.D because he had nowhere else to go, Captain America: Winter Soldier has Captain America finally questioning the moral foundation of what he does for a living, working for S.H.I.E.L.D as The Super Soldier.

The entire movie is set in Washington DC, America's Canberra, with monumental columns and architecture all from the same decade. This is the land where laws and policy that are responsible for not only a country, but an entire world, are created. Here then, is the perfect place for a man with the muscles to drive his heart, to go into conflict with the heart of the Western Civilisation.

Scarlet Johanson's Black Widow is much more of a complex creature here. Her playful banter, under a monotone delivery and glassy, detached eyes, causes us to wonder what her character actually is. She is a person who lies for a living, hired by a man who lies for a living.

Samuel L Jackson's Nick Fury again is completely untruthful, a man who trades in so much misinformation, that he may be lying to himself as well in regard to his own perception of what his organisation is and/or does. Enter Robert Redford's Alexander Pierce, a senior leader within S.H.I.E.L.D and a member of the World Security Council last seen ordering a nuclear strike on Manhattan Island, New York, in The Avengers. Like The Empire Strikes Back, we are gradually made privy to a higher and deeper level of the bureaucracy of this murky government department called S.H.I.E.L.D.

The action is fast paced and absolutely relentless, gradually unfolding (and escalating) to a visually stunning, money-shot climax like blockbusters of old. The CGI is not missed, but the ferocity and the intensity of the real-world effects are felt! Relentless bullet hits, immersive explosions resonate in such a visceral way that it is refreshing when compared to modern blockbusters that disconnect their audiences with constant, sensory overload that are not organic to the story, and the uncanny valley.

The Winter Soldier himself is a frightening, unstoppable and dogged presence. A dark shade to our captain, the Winter Soldier is the Cold War: dark, mysterious, ambiguous, stealthy and deadly. More than a match for our heroes, the Winter Soldier is obviously a tool for a larger threat, but what and\or who is it?

Rating

A fantastic return to an enjoyable thriller in the dressings of a comic-book, Captain America: The Winter Soldier may be the best Marvel movie yet, placing the character perfectly, whetting our appetites for the next entry!

4.5 out of 5 stars!

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