Captain America: The Winter Soldier

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There is a lot to love in this sequel to the original. It carries forward the story, not just from The First Avenger, but also from the entire movie cycle and TV show. Frankly, on that level it is a thing of beauty. Despite the mixed media spread of the franchise, this is very much a film, not just super-sized episode. They did “go bigger” as series tend to do; but rather than get absurd, they also went with a deeper and more complex story. And it is quite the web they are weaving.

There is some not to love as well. Let’s face it, it is somewhat predictable, though they managed to sucker punch me a couple times. One of those punches really requires you to have seen the original films to feel it, but most are fair regardless. While there is humor, and there is a lot, it is done very dryly (perhaps a little too dryly at times). And the relationship building, as opposed to the character growth, is a little weak at time. Honestly, though, the emotional pieces of the story are still subordinate to an inordinate amount of rather incredible action.

And, speaking of… the fight scenes are amazingly choreographed, and there is no slo-mo to gaze at it all… it is fast, and wicked, and deserves to be rewatched to see the detail (I saw some knife work flash by that had my jaw drop). The stunt crew and the choreographer deserve notice at this year’s awards.

The casts continue to hold solidly. Some of these are surprises, so I won’t disclose any names. Suffice to say the faces you know continue to do well and grow, and the new ones they’ve added are up to the task. There wasn’t a sour note to be had in the performances. And the  directing brother duo of Russos, who have mostly credits in television, other than You, Me and Dupree, really held this huge leap in scope together and did it proud. It is no wonder they have already been handed the reign, along with returning collaborative writers Mcfeely and Markus (Thor: the Dark World), for Captain America 3.

I did see the 3D (non-IMAX) version. Honestly, while there is some good work in there, the movie sustains without it. I almost wish I hadn’t done the 3D (solely for cost), but it was a good experience.  I really only bit the bullet on it because I wanted to be sure I was watching on one of the bigger screens… and that conceit worked.

As the latest installment, Marvel shows no sign of weakening yet. Their next launch, Guardians of the Galaxy, looks to be taking a left turn from what we’ve grown used to. It will be interesting to see how it all comes together both in story and style.

And, yes, there are two (count them folks: 2) tags again. Stay through to the very end. We were the only ones left in the theater again during the final tag. Even the guy sweeping up was shaking his head at the fact that everyone else had left.

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