(PHOTO CREDIT: MCTCAMPUS)
“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” is a welcome addition to the post-“Avengers” series. (PHOTO CREDIT: MCTCAMPUS)

This movie was seen at a press junket on Thursday, March 21. The movie officially opens to the public on April 4, 2014.

Out of the three main Marvel series, Captain America seemed like it would be the least likely to succeed. While Iron Man and Thor were allowed to roam free in action and sci-fi set pieces, Captain America was rooted as a more realistic character. Ironically, it is this exact realism and darker tone that make “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” the best Marvel film yet.

The film picks up a few years after “The Avengers,” with Captain America (Chris Evans) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) working for S.H.I.E.L.D. as field agents. But when the Winter Soldier, a character from the captain’s past comes back, the state of S.H.I.E.L.D., superheroes and even the status of the whole Marvel cinematic universe are threatened.

Make no mistake; “The Winter Soldier” is Marvel’s boldest movie yet, running at a pulse-pounding speed that includes espionage, political turmoil and classical superhero into one tightly scripted package. If anything, the film feels like an odd collaboration of all the best parts of the previous Marvel films, but takes them to the next level. Car chases, shoot-outs and aerial dogfights have never looked this good from the company. This is greatly helped by the strong directing of Anthony and Joe Russo.

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If the film faults in one area, it is how jarring the genre change can be. While it is good that the movie is ambitious, it sometimes feels a little bloated with everything it is trying to do. New characters such as Agent Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp) and the Falcon (Anthony Mackie) fail to leave an impression.

That’s not to say that the film sacrifices characters for the sake of narrative, in fact Steve’s lingering plotline from “The Avengers” is directly continued in this film. A character born from a different time period that struggles to adapt to the modern age, is only strengthen by a villain returning from the past. This plot line also evolves into a great character arc involving romantic engagements with Black Widow and modern-day terrorism with Nick Fury (Samuel Jackson). Needless to say that Evans manages to give a charming yet emotional performances, along with Johansson, who really justifies her character getting her own film with her performance here.

Still, the highlights of the film are easily the titular character, played by Sebastian Stan and newcomer Robert Redford as Alexander Pierce. Besides Loki, the Marvel films have never really had a strong villain, but Stan brings a terrifying and deeply emotional performance here. Redford’s character is quieter, but one whose actions might be more devastating to the universe then any superhuman. Also, like all Marvel movies, this one clearly is hinting at something bigger in the universe, and hints at a bigger villain on the way.

“Captain America: The First Avenger” was a movie clearly stuck in a WWII time period, so it is ironic that the best parts of this film are all the returning pieces from previous Marvel films.  While the genre change was necessary and a welcome change, given the current state of the character post “The Avengers,” it does create a tone that takes some getting use to.

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“The Winter Soldier,” is the best Marvel film to date, but it might also be the riskiest. It is a smart, political-action film on its own, but when taken into account with the rest of the Marvel film, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” is a game changer.

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