Recently: “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”

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The comic book movie is now a yearly occurrence, for better or worse. Sometimes there are two comic book adaptations in one year, which only makes things more tiresome than they already were. Some have the distinction of actually being good and having a story, but many, it’s sad to say, don’t have any such thing, let alone character growth or emotion.

The Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures and Marvel film “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” manages to be something that so many of the other Marvel films only wish to be. Interesting and good. There were plenty of surprises this go around and I was quite pleased with the final result.

This action film stars Chris Evans (“Snowpiercer”, “The Iceman”), Scarlett Johansson (“Lucy”, “Under the Skin”), Sebastian Stan (“Labyrinth”, “Once Upon a Time”), Anthony Mackie (“Runner Runner”, “The Fifth Estate”), Cobie Smulders (“The Lego Movie”, upcoming “They Came Together”), Frank Grillo (upcoming series “Kingdom”, “The Purge: Anarchy”), Emily VanCamp (“Revenge”, “Beyond the Blackboard”), Hayley Atwell (upcoming “Jimi: All Is By My Side”, “Life of Crime”), Robert Redford (“All is Lost”, “The Company You Keep”), and Samuel L. Jackson (“RoboCop (2014)”, “Reasonable Doubt”).

The film was directed by Anthony Russo (“Animal Practice”, “Community”) and Joe Russo (“Community”, “Up All Night”). It was written by Christopher Markus (“Thor: The Dark World”, “Pain & Gain”) and Stephen McFeely (“Thor: The Dark World”, “Pain & Gain”). Based on the comic book series “Captain America”.

The film was released on April 4, 2014.

As opposed to the first film, which took way too long on everything, this film really jumped in quite nicely. It’s been two years since he woke up and was thrust into the events of “The Avengers”, so it’s nice to see he’s come a long way with integrating into modern life. He even has a cell phone.

While it starts things off quite nicely, the only thing you get from this is more characters. Whether you care about them or even like them is anybody’s guess. This, like so many films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), doesn’t really focus on any kind of character development, growth, or even emotion. Sure they show anger a bit, but it’s not really moving. It’s like going through the motions.

For me, the only character I felt had any slight resemblance to growth was Johansson’s character. In all the other films her character popped up in, she was either mysterious or only kicking butt, which she’s quite good at, mind you. Somehow, I felt, that Johansson’s managed to eek out a few human emotions, that didn’t involve having been thrown across the air and hitting some heavy object. It was one of the few things I noticed immediately when watching this film. Along with, a well played, running gag on which women are available for Evans’ character to date.

Of all the new characters in this film, the only one that really did anything for me was Redford’s. He didn’t have to go above and beyond with his performance, merely stay cool and calm. No unnecessary shouting needed. His character was probably the best villain out there. It could have something to do with the fact that the man playing this part so well, is Redford. Simple as that. Also, as far as I’m remembering, he’s the first human villain. No god, altered person or creature. Just man. Sure I still scoffed at this notion that he was part of this film, but I was pleasantly surprised by his contribution.

Among the new additions, were VanCamp and Grillo. Each were fun to watch, because they portray opposite sides, but they didn’t get much character treatment. I’ve been watching VanCamp on various things, and enjoy her work, so seeing her in this role, as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, was exciting. However, they didn’t give her character many opportunities to show her skills or do anything, except stand around a lot. Grillo, just acted like a bad ass agent. Beating up on anyone. Fun to watch, but it gave his character no definition. Would’ve been a waste if not for the well executed fight scenes he was in.

One thing I loved, as opposed to the first film, and even the first “Avengers” film was the level that the action seemed to take. The action scenes felt much bigger and more exciting. They were a bit more brutal, and given that these people are altered or really well trained, intense, and dare I say, believable. This film even included car chases! Where this film really differed from the others is that the hand to hand combat was well choreographed and executed, again, given that these people are highly skilled, it needed to look awesome.

Yes there was still some special and visual effects that needed to be show, but not as nearly as much as compared to “The Avengers”. The action also differs from that of the previous film because there was more, it was old fashioned and you didn’t really have to wait 20 minutes or more for those scenes to appear. “Captain America: The First Avenger” really suffered from pacing and the amount of story they tried to cram into the film, which ultimately only gave you bursts of any real action.

The score was brilliant. I have nothing against Alan Silvestri (“Red 2″,”The Croods”), but what he did for the previous film was dull compared to this films score. Silvestri, created a score to more suit the heroic nature and period of the 1940s, which was fine, but as a score for an action film, kind of a drag. The improved score by Henry Jackman (“Captain Phillips”, “Kick-Ass 2”), really gave this film that action feel. It made a lot of the scenes more exciting and sometimes suspenseful. When scenes called for it, there was also enough humanity and softer score. Some of the score even seemed to have more than just orchestral instruments, almost like having a bit of an electronic overtone to it. I was reminded a bit, of what Michael Giacchino did for the first season and half of season two, of “Alias”.

While this film didn’t seem to have much of a story, it certainly had one of the darkest plots in a Marvel film, of late. All this espionage, dark twists, betrayal, and sabotage helped to create a direction where a lot is possible. For the first time, in a long time, I’m a little more excited about where these films could all go. How will they continue to connect and be related, beyond just by name? One can only hope that some of the other films take on this same tone, as most tried a little too hard and too much, to be funny and light hearted.

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