In all honesty, The Winter Soldier wasn't one of the two films I was looking forward to seeing this year. But since its enforced hiatus, Agents of SHIELD has been really good, so I was really wanting to know how the latest movie fit in.
I've not been aware of anything else that the Russo brothers have done, and, apart from the sequence on the ship at the start of the film which gave me a headache because the camera was all over the place, the direction was fine. Nothing particularly fancy or inventive, but not ham fisted either. Just fine. However, the direction was probably helped by a great story.
I'm certainly not a Marvel fanboy, though I have recently been sucked into this Universe. I guess that may make me slightly biased, but I've probably only been sucked in due to the, generally, great quality of the films. With that in mind; I thought the plot couldn't really be much better. It hit all the right points, tied in nicely with Agents of SHIELD, answered the questions I had, raised new ones, subtly referenced the other Avengers films and even Pulp Fiction! Sure there were a few plot fail moments, but they can be easily forgiven.
For their part, the cast all hit the right notes too. Chris Evans has the right chiselled jaw to be the all American hero and the chops for all the action too. He may be becoming typecast as a superhero, but while he’s doing it, he’s doing a grand job. Scarlett Johansson reprises her Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow role and is just as kick-ass as she is in The Avengers; very good. Joining these two is Anthony Mackie (took me ages to figure out why I recognized him: The Hurt Locker, 2008; The Adjustment Bureau, 2011) who becomes a significant ally as The Falcon. He’s fine, but doesn’t seem as natural in a full on sci-fi actioner such as this. Surrounding the main three is an impressive array of talent including Toby Jones, Cobie Smulders, Robert Redford, and of course Samuel L. Jackson. Also good to see Alan Dale pop up again, clearly it’s been a while since he was onscreen as a high-ranking pulling-the-strings character.
Naturally, a film such as this is heavy on the special effects, and they are top-notch, as would be expected from ILM. I can imagine there are sequences that were done digitally which could have been done in camera, though you don’t notice at all. The only obvious moment was the youngification of Captain Rogers, but I thought it looked superb; perhaps not the Winkelvii from The Social Network, but better than Jeff Bridges in Tron: Legacy.
I think the only Henry Jackman score I’ve heard would be X-Men; First Class, but I can’t remember that at all. I felt that this score was equally subtle to the point of absence; I’m sure it worked perfectly within the movie, but I didn’t notice it at all.
I thought Captain America: The Winter Soldier was a great adventure and terrific fun. A great cast which work well together, interesting story and great production all round, continuing the Marvel Cinematic Universe trend. But, well, you know, that’s just, like, er, my opinion, man.