'Captain America: The Winter Soldier'
(Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, Anthony Mackie, et al / Blu ray / PG-13 / 2014 / BVHE)
Overview: For Steve Rogers, awakening after decades of suspended animation involves more than catching up on pop culture; it also means that this old school idealist must face a world of subtler threats and difficult moral complexities. That comes clear when Director Nick Fury is killed by the mysterious assassin, the Winter Soldier, but not before warning Rogers that SHIELD has been subverted by its enemies.
Blu ray Verdict: 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier' is the third film in Phase 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (after last year's 'Iron Man 3' and 'Thor: The Dark World'). Compared with the mighty giant green monster, the hammer wielding Norse thunder god or the 'genius, philanthropist, billionaire, playboy' armor man, the Captain was never quite as appealing as the rest of the 'Unusuals'. Steve Rogers is portrayed as an old-fashioned, straightforward, honest, courageous, sincere, patriotic superhero. This makes him a less-interesting, boring character. Moreover, as Tony Stark said it, "Everything special about you came out of a bottle!"
Most film-goers would know that Marvel films are famous for its bright, fun and not-so-serious approach to its storytelling, together with some catchy, witty dialogues. This film is a game changer in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This time around, Marvel decided to take a different approach on things: To make a Captain America sequel with a more serious, darker plot development and more face-to-face close-range hand combat fights. What should have been a typical superhero film, now becomes a conspiracy-espionage thriller.
Two years after the events that happened in New York city, the Captain still struggles with adjusting himself to the modern world, with no apparent social life or girl friend, which is why Natasha/Black Widow tries to introduce or recommend him some cute girls in S.H.I.E.L.D. for him to date with. He is shocked when he learns that the very governmental organization he is working for is not what it seems to be, as the Cap said in the trailer, "This isn't freedom. This is fear". Soon, he finds himself entangled in a conspiracy that puts millions of innocent lives at risk.
The film comes with excellent, fast-paced action choreography. Although the cinematography is a bit dodgy due to the shaky-cam techniques used for depicting the chaotic moments, the fight scenes between the Winter Soldier and the Captain is fantastic and serves as one of the film's highlights. The audience finally gets to see how the Captain's shield is utilized effectively in both offensive and defensive combat situations. It also good to see again how Natasha kicks ass in the film.
All actors delivered a pretty decent performance in the film. Once again, Chris Evans and Scarlett Johannson both proved that they fit their roles well, adding more depth to the characters they portray in the film. Sam Wilson/Falcon is a welcome addition to the Marvel franchise and hopefully he will appear again in the Avengers sequel. Unfortunately, despite the film's title, the winter soldier is not a complex villain and doesn't appear much in the film. It's such a shame to just show him as a formidable physical fighter who's capable of challenging the Captain.
The film is well-scripted, filled with suspense while highlighting some important socio-political issues such as government surveillance and control in its storytelling. Although the twists in the film is predictable and fairly easy to guess, the sequel is a marked improvement compared to its predecessor, 'Captain America: The First Avenger.' The story unfolds gradually and comes with huge, surprising developments by the end of the film. Marvel Cinematic Universe is not going to be the same again. What's going to happen next? How the story is going to progress in 'Avengers: Age of Ultron,' after what had happened in this film? Interesting. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.77:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Audio Commentary: Directors Anthony & Joe Russo and screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely
On the Front Line: An Inside Look at Captain America's Battlegrounds (HD, 10 minutes)
On Set with Anthony Mackie: Cut the Check! (HD, 2 minutes)
Deleted and Extended Scenes (HD, 4 minutes)
Steve Rogers' Notebook (HD, 3 minutes)
Gag Reel (HD, 3 minutes): Laughing it up with the cast.