For the land of the free

The red, white, and blue avenger returns in action-packed masterpiece

By Carlos Razo
Staff Writer

5/5

Now that The Avengers have disassembled and returned to their individual franchises, audiences have been able to rest assured knowing that their favorite characters can still function in their own films.

captainamerica-poster-337865985With 2013’s “Iron Man 3” and “Thor: The Dark World” adequately expanding Marvel’s cinematic universe, fans of Captain America could not have been more excited for the return of the star-spangled hero. Luckily for them, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” is not only one of the greatest superhero films to date, it is the only film in Marvel Studio’s lineup to come close to “The Avengers.”  It is easily one of the most exciting, thought-provoking, and well-adapted action films of the decade. This is not one to miss.

After being frozen in ice for almost 70 years, Captain America (AKA Steve Rogers, played by Chris Evans) continues to adjust to modern day life. Working closely with the espionage organization, S.H.I.E.L.D, Captain America, along with secret agent Black Widow (Scarlet Johannsen), The Falcon (Anthony Mackie), and Colonel Nick Fury, begin to uncover a top-secret conspiracy that hopes to bring down S.H.I.E.L.D for good. As S.H.I.E.L.D’s own dirty tactics are uncovered, Rogers’ old-fashioned code of ethics cause him to question who the real bad guys are, and soon a nation-wide manhunt begins for the Star-Spangled Man with the Plan. Along the way, Cap encounters a highly skilled assassin equipped with a mechanical arm nicknamed “The Winter Soldier” that begins to terrorize S.H.I.E.L.D., and to Roger’s horror, this masked killer may be more to him than just another enemy.

As “Captain America: The First Avenger” was a fun, light-hearted nod to films like “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “The Winter Soldier” aims to be more of a political thriller set inside the world of superheroes. Less jokey than Marvel’s previous efforts (there are still plenty of hilarious moments) the film has more of a “Die Hard” feel than a campy summer blockbuster vibe. The action scenes are plentiful, perfectly shot, and wonderfully choreographed. Captain America fights his way through waves of goons with the assistance of the some impressive stunts and an extremely bouncy, digitally animated shield. It was a breath of fresh air to see actual stunt men jump, climb, and drive their way though a superhero film. We do not see enough of that.

Chris Evans plays Captain America with unshakable, homegrown American integrity, and with much more drama to act through, he earns his stars and stripes. Johannsen continues to develop the Black Widow character, freshly introducing the character in a way captain-america-winter-soldier-1309301312that is both sexy and charismatic. A few new cast members include Anthony Mackie as The Falcon, who adds most of the comic relief, and Robert Redford as Alexander Pierce, one of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s senior officers.

At nearly two and a half hours, “The Winter Soldier” could have easily collapsed under its own weight, but instead added a heartbreaking emotional core that made such a fantastic character seem so much more human. Fans of the comics will not be too surprised by the film’s main twist, but the scenes following it are, dare I say it, quite powerful. The writers remembered that a superhuman still needs to be human.

Anthony and Joe Russo (responsible for “Arrested Development”) have molded another perfect action film. Marvel Studios is wise to keep them on board for the third entry in the series, due out in 2016, because with all of its incredible action and larger-than-life characters, they were able to find its human center once again and create a massive movie that still feels intimate. Marvel proves that it is still the unbeatable king of comic book movies, and that its titular hero is one of the greatest characters ever produced in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

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