Captain America 2 delivers suspense

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The Cap is back and stronger than ever in this year’s first major blockbuster, “Captain America: The WInter Soldier.” In Marvel’s tremendous follow-up to Avengers tie-in “Captain America: The First Avenger,” the studio succeeded in two ways: they’ve created a complex story with engaging, charismatic acting and characters, fast-paced action and well-established mystery, and they’ve given audiences a stellar advertisement for the 2015 Avengers film, “Age of Ultron.”

“Winter Soldier” features Avenger Steve Rogers facing world-threatening circumstances while grappling with the change from his native World War II era to life in the 21st century. The movie, fortunately, is mostly accessible to those who haven’t seen the previous films, but seeing those films plays into one of this film’s greatest strengths.

To understand how the movie’s story plays into the closely connected Marvel Cinematic Universe, you need to have seen Avengers and, even more so, the first Captain America installment. One reason I loved this film was how important it felt to the future of the Marvel tie-in series as a whole.

It could be argued that this film is one of the most important installments yet. Without spoiling any of the series-altering plot elements, I’ll just say this: don’t watch episodes of ABC’s “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D” anytime in the next few weeks before seeing “Winter Soldier.”

On to more important things, the acting and screen chemistry is top notch. Chris Evans reprises his role as Captain America and does so terrifically. He conveys his character’s ideological disdain for progressing warfare in such a charismatic, innocent way that you can’t help buying into the idea that issues only come in black or white, with no gray in the mix.

Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow is also given significantly more screen time in this film, and deservedly so. The character’s written much more complex in the movie, and forms an interesting friendship with Captain America. Also, Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson (a.k.a. Falcon) is an important component due to his natural friendship onscreen with Evans’ Steve Rodgers.

Falcon and Captain America’s undying friendship in the comics is captured in this film by the chemistry Evans and Mackie bring to the characters. The friendship featured between the two characters is natural, competitive and refreshing in dialogue and body language as a whole.

Also returning for the film is Samuel L. Jackson as Col. Nick Fury. And, yeah, he’s still awesome.

This brings me to my next point. The word “awesome” can be used to describe most aspects of “Captain America: Winter Soldier.” Most deserving of this descriptor, however, is the action. The film does Captain America’s acrobat and shield-fighting skills way more justice than both of the films he’s been featured in before (and I don’t even want to mention this…).

The Cap did fall a few times from heights that definitely would’ve killed him, which took me out of the moment in several instances, but I was able to easily get over that with the excellent action. As expected from the newest of Marvel’s entries, there’s a perfect blend of sharply-written humor and varying locations thrown into the action and dialogue sequences alike.

The action scenes, original and exciting, were crafted with expertly-controlled coordination and editing. Even more so, they were strategically scattered throughout the movie, yet frequent enough that the movie’s pacing leading to and through the climactic third act was perfect. This movie has by far one of the best paces of any Marvel movies to date. At no point was I looking at my Batman watch (ironic, right?), thinking anything remotely close to “when will this movie be over?”

“Captain America: Winter Soldier” isn’t my number one favorite Marvel Studios film to date; but it’s certainly one of best. The studio has found an enjoyable formula that works in two ways. First and foremost, the financial success in tickets and merchandising; also, in making great movies that satisfy long-time and recent fans as a whole.

One last note: As always, there are two scenes after the film itself, one in the middle of the credits and one after the credits are finished. Following formula, the clips tie not only into the future of the Cap’s next direct installments, but into the Avengers series as a whole. Be sure to stay at least through the mid-credits scene if you’d like a teaser for the next film.

Mike Sullivan
Reporter