Well, here we have the sequel I wasn’t really looking forward to and wasn’t especially interested in. I liked the first movie well enough, but the idea of another movie didn’t interest me all that much. I’m just not that into Captain America as a character.
But I must say, whatever expectations I had were shattered. This movie was excellent. It was nicely-paced and struck a good balance between humor and drama; something that isn’t always easy to do. All the major characters worked well, even the Black Widow, who I normally just roll eyes at and quickly lose interest in. I will say that the titular Winter Soldier was a bit undeserved. He didn’t really do much, other than look vaguely menacing and incredibly hot (note to self: watch for guys cosplaying as him when Comicon rolls around). I also like that Nick Fury was actually given a larger role, which is a nice change of pace from his normal habit of popping up, making a couple of quips and leaving again.
The movie itself did indeed live up to the notion, as its directors said it would, of feeling like a 1970s political thriller (complete with Robert Redford), with a bit of action thrown in; and the action was, for the most part, in service to the plot. That’s something fairly rare in many movies now (I’m looking at you, Michael Bay). It was also nice to see some discussion about the ethics of SHIELD and the way they behave, though I wish it had been more than a surface discussion. I also really enjoyed seeing Captain America get a lot more characterization than he had in his previous two major appearances.
The one minor complaint that I have about the movie is that it was a bit crowded with main characters. We had Captain America, Falcon, Nick Fury and Black Widow, in addition to several different villains. I like a good ensemble cast, but there is a limit. Seeing the Winter Soldier get a bit more development would have been nice, too, but mostly I just spent time looking at him and thinking, “Giggity!” a lot.
As a final word on this movie, be aware that there are two credits teasers. One, that actually matters, happens in the middle of the credits. The other, which doesn’t, really, happens at the end. Stay for both, unless you’re at the theater I work at, in which case get out quickly! We have a mess to clean up.